MKC Blog > December 2020 > Value Added Experiences

Value Added Experiences

December 7, 2020

2020-summer-interns.jpgMKC’s tradition of growth and excellence relates not only to its increasing membership and footprint, but also to its internship program. Created in 2011, the intern program has evolved into one of the most structured and effective programs among agricultural cooperatives. The summer-long program focuses on technical exposure in the intern’s areas of interest and professional skills such as public speaking, communication standards and leadership etiquette.

Mirroring the innovation and constant growth of the agricultural industry, MKC has advanced its internship program by adding several new positions over the years, including IT application development and supply chain and inventory management to its list of traditional agriculture internships in operations and sales.

“MKC is a growth-oriented cooperative, and our internship program is a reflection of that,” says Hilary Worcester, MKC coordinator of talent and industry partnerships. “We recognize the future of agriculture is not just in the field and will include a need for diversely knowledgeable experts.”

MKC’s unique internship experience is due to its high regard for the intern. Students who apply for the program are screened for specific criteria, including their willingness to learn and grow, how they communicate, and whether they have a mindset for teamwork. Interns are selected through formal interviews with potential mentors to ensure they are a good fit for their role; be it in operations, communications, accounting, decision ag, sales and more.

“The interns are mentored by leaders in the organization whose role is to make sure they see many parts of the organization, do meaningful work and understand how it all fits together,” Worcester says. “Each intern has a unique experience based on their mentor’s position within the company and their area of expertise.”

As part of the program, interns are assigned a summer project that aligns with one or more strategic objectives on the MKC and TMA strategic plans. Interns work throughout the duration of the summer to create innovative ideas related to their specific project and present these solutions to the leadership team and Board of Directors at the end of the summer.

“The most rewarding part about working with an intern is seeing the new ideas they bring to the table,” says Riley Eck, former intern and Groveland management trainee. “Sometimes we, as employees, get stuck with blinders on, and having someone from outside the company come in and give a different perspective on things can really help the organization out.”

MKC’s efforts to provide a hands-on, value-added experience has resulted in 18 permanent hires into full-time roles with MKC and TMA. In the summer of 2020, six past interns took on the role as mentors.

“Retaining these interns and having them pay their experience forward is invaluable,” Worcester says. “It’s all about getting the right students in our culture and letting them experience what MKC is. During the recruitment process, we often rely on word-of-mouth from past interns who are quick to share their positive experiences.”

Ethan Knight, a summer of 2015 operations intern at the Moundridge location and now the grain operations manager at the Canton Terminal, served as a mentor this summer to Seth Hemberger, operations intern.

“The best part about being a mentor is getting to spend time with young professionals who are eager to learn, ask questions and work hard,” Knight says. “As much as it’s my goal to pass knowledge to college students, I find myself being able to learn and grow from the experience as well.”

Photos: (top left) Katlin Allton, communications intern; (top right) Cole Reed, decision ag consultant; (bottom left) Chelsey Knight, operations intern at Walton; (bottom right) Seth Hemberger, operations intern at Canton


Posted: 12/7/2020 3:56:26 PM by Kelli Schrag | with 0 comments

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