Monday, August 9, 2010


They can be hard to come by...actually, no, I take that back. They can slap you in the face when you're least expecting that. College is definitely a time for learning and experiencing life as never before. It's when you learn to survive in that big bad world out there. There are ways to better equip yourself, though. There are things you can do to learn in a positive environment, to better understand who you are, where you're going, and what you want to do. One of these tools for better preparation is the idea of interning.

Internships introduce you to "real" work. You get to test your creativity, and learn some of the ropes of what you want to do. Or, you may better define your dreams and goals. I've done a few internships so far, and have a few more queued up for the next few years. One of these internships was as an Internet Communications person with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

I'd like to think I directly blame them for me catching the ag comm bug. I loved agriculture before. Now, I'm hooked.

For a little backstory, I'll clarify why I'm an odd case for agricultural communications. Most ag comm folks study ag comm, and pick up on Internet trends as they go. I'm the reverse. I'm majoring in Interactive Media Studies, with a minor in English composition. My school doesn't even have an ag program. Yet, I found my way to some applications for Illinois Corn internships. While agriculture has always been an interest, the time I devoted to blogging for ICMB helped channel it into a very concrete passion. The pay was decent and the people were great to work with. I feel supremely blessed to have been able to do something I truly enjoyed with people who are incredibly fun to work with.

The experience was not just limited to finding passion within myself. There were valuable learning opportunities. As the internship went on, I began interacting with other interns. Abby Coers and I integrated our separate projects to promote each other a bit. We were given creative liberty, but we also had guidance when we needed it. It was ultimately a great learning experience. I got to experience a conference room setting, where they presented to each other about our specific projects. I learned about networking and professional connection. I even got to wear a suit and present to the Board of Directors at the end of my internship.

I am eternally grateful to Illinois Corn for the things I learned under their wing. I only wish I could have exploited the experience a bit longer. Because of them, I know where my heart lies, as far as the professional world goes. I also got another big fringe benefit: because of my internship, I now run Midwestern Gold, a blog devoted to Illinois corn and agriculture in general.

So, when you start thinking about ways to build some professional experience, think of me. I attend a liberal arts school in the Chicago suburbs. Because of an internship, I got to stay in touch with my agricultural roots. I realized I could really pursue my passions with my skills and talents. When you start checking out those internship applications, don't pass over Illinois Corn. I'm glad I didn't!

Kelly Rivard
North Central College

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