3 weeks, 2 interns, 1 cubicle with Jenna & Mary
This week on the blog we wrap up our internship series where we've allowed summer interns to tell you their story of experiences while at Co-Alliance. This week's entry is unique. Former State FFA Officers Jenna Kelsay and Mary Jones joined us for an abbreviated 3-week internship with one mighty goal at hand. We invite you to read about their experience first hand:
If the title sounds like an intro to an action movie, that’s because it is. Our time at Co-Alliance was so full of experiences, amazing people, and learning opportunities, that we would definitely consider it action packed! With only 3 weeks, 15 days on the clock, and 9 days in the office, we traveled over 700 miles, met over 30 people in the Co-Alliance family, and grew so much in our short time here.
What kind of action movie would this be if we didn’t start from the beginning. Two 19-year-olds fresh out of a gap year walk into their first “big girl” job with nothing but backpacks, Stanleys, and a bagged Caeser salad. That’s right... lunch on the first day was handpicked from the bagged salad section completed with a huge plastic bowl, which we shared in the cafeteria by ourselves. After this first day, we found out we could in fact leave for lunch, causing a few too many McDonald’s meals (for their Diet Coke of course.) While we did bring leftovers occasionally, it was much more fun to go out to eat, from Sam’s Club sushi to Jenna’s first-time trying Panda Express, our time at Co-Alliance has been full of new experiences.
The best part of an action movie is the dramatic music behind every scene as the stars walk away from a blazing fire. So of course, we had to have the perfect background for each of our adventures outside of the office. The obvious choice was the Crime Junkie podcast. While racking up our 700 miles on the road, the distinct sound of the podcast intro song became our jam. When we weren’t engrossed in all things true crime, we had karaoke sessions to Mary’s latest playlist obsession, Outer Banks...or satisfied Jenna’s need to drive in awkward silence. Frequent stops for coffee and gas station fountain pops were our favorite, even if it meant adding a few miles to our trips. Our drive to the office every day gave us the perfect time to solve the world’s biggest problems and ask the hard questions...like, ‘Why is it called rush hour if nobody is moving?’...while we couldn’t answer this one, we deliberated it extensively.
Now if you know us, you know we LOVE a good outfit. Seeing as we actually had a reason to wear business outfits, we probably went a little overboard at times...and we probably could have had our own costume trailer. Of all the daily fit checks, one day was exceptionally good. This good outfit day started with us arriving at the office, clocking in, and opening our email to find some startling news. We were expecting just another day at the office but instead given the surprise honor of visiting a Swine Facility. Just like any action movie there have to be surprises, I guess. To set the scene for you, two young females walk into a barn on a 95-degree day wearing business professional and white shoes.... You heard that right. We both chose to wear white shoes to visit a hog facility. Lesson learned: always bring a change of clothes and check your email.
One of the best things about our internship is that every day looked different! We were tasked with developing the new SEED project, a program for high school graduates not looking to pursue a college degree. This program will allow these graduates to receive full-time employment at Co-Alliance while rotating through all of their divisions to eventually land in a permanent position. We loved meeting with all the Co-Alliance departments (Agronomy, Grain, Energy, & Swine) and learning how their division operates. While this was our main project during our time here, the Marketing Team did a wonderful job of expanding our responsibilities for more learning opportunities! Our adventures landed us all across the state of Indiana and even into Ohio! We visited the Preble County Fair to photograph and video exhibitors. This majorly expanding our professional development and of course the fair food helped!
We even got the chance to explore the Great Indiana State Fair! Our adventure started when we passed out cute stickers of the beautiful mural in the new Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion, then to playing iSpy with all the Co-Alliance logos (which are EVERYWHERE around the fair!), and even joining in to record a podcast episode with a few important people. It was an absolute blast to see the huge footprint the company has around the fair... From the trolley tractor, to backtags, to stall markers, to the Swine Barn, and especially each of the propane tanks for every food vendor around the track, Co-Alliance is everywhere! Catching glimpses of the logo everywhere we looked reminded us of the impact Co-Alliance has across the entire state and how proud we are to be a small part of it.
Speaking of adventure movies, we even met Co-Alliance's very own Tommy Boy. Tasked with filming a ‘Day In the Life’ of an employee, we got to follow around THE Tommy Sellers for a day! Arriving at the Co-Alliance Farm Store in Greenfield, we were greeted with big smiles and lots of hugs, because ‘we don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug’! Tommy is just one of many employees we met in our time here at Co-Alliance, but the story with each of them was similar.
Every person we met was willing to help, gave encouragement, and most importantly, truly enjoyed their jobs. We were welcomed with open arms and genuinely felt like a part of the Co-Alliance family. These past three weeks have given us the most unique experience to build our own network of connections, explore the cooperative system, and put our passions to good use. It has been a joy and an honor to join the family, even for such a short time. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for such an action packed and fulfilling internship.
Officially signing out of the FFA Cube,
Mary Jones & Jenna Kelsay