By Taylor Gilbert, Marketing and Communications Intern
As a recent Cornell graduate of the Animal Science Department with a dairy management concentration, one of the many things ingrained in us as students early on is the power of internships. Find out what you like, more importantly, find out what you do not like, and be open to learning along the way. Over my college career, I have had a range of experiences from an intern on a crop farm, dairy sales intern in a pharmaceutical company, and starting to help more on the business side of my family’s home farm. I have exposed myself to a range of different areas in the agricultural industry, and graduating a semester early gave me an opportunity to have one more experience before I decided on a longer-term first career. For me, that opportunity was Dairy One.
Growing up with my family owning a dairy farm, I knew Dairy One as the place to call about two things: computers and milk testing. They came to the farm to take test day samples, or when there was an issue with our hardware or software. That was my perspective of the company, but after doing some research I realized they had their hands in a lot more than I originally thought. Nonetheless, I was excited to get a new perspective in the industry as a Marketing and Communications intern. From day one of my internship, I sat in a conference room as my mentor, Molly Gildea, began writing all the different sections within Dairy One on a white board that spanned across the room. Little did I know that DHI testing and software and hardware support were just a couple of the many categories I would be able to dig into over the next couple months.
At the beginning of my internship, my expectations were that I would develop content for various social media platforms, write short articles for the company blog, make a variety of follow up calls, and have a few other projects along the way. The first couple weeks came with a lot of reading and research. Before I could start sharing information about the company, I had to have a decent grasp on how Dairy One fits in the industry, and how they interact with their customers.
One of my responsibilities was to create consistent content for our social media pages. A way I did this was through creating a “Tractor Talk” series posting every Tuesday. The hope was to have a collection of podcasts that farmers can listen to as they spend countless hours in the tractor cab this spring. Topics included herd management, sustainability, planting information, industry trends, and so on. We were consistent with these posts and they eventually began to pick up some traction. Tracking the social media post performance and looking at trends gave me a better understanding of not only when to post, but also what to post about.
Another consistent project I worked on was finding new ways to reach people and educate on all we have to offer through the company blog page. I wrote weekly articles on a range of topics. Some of which included how to get forage samples to the lab, an informational series on VAS PULSE Platform with common issues and ways to troubleshoot those issues, and highlighting a local business that our IFS team worked with to build a custom planter. These blogs are educational and can be a resource for our customers, staff, and other industry individuals.
Learning New Perspectives
Early in my internship, Jack van Almelo, Director of Agricultural Consulting Services, was hosting a series of discussions looking at the bigger picture of who Dairy One is as an organization. One of the perks of the shift to Zoom calls was getting people from across the organization into one “place”. In the first discussion, we took a step back and thought about how what we do at Dairy One day in and day out affects our customers, the families they support, and the people their product will be reaching. Dairy One plays an integral part of a cycle that begins with energy from sunlight, transferring to the soil, plants, animals, and so on. We also talked about how farming and agriculture is changing more rapidly than any other time in history. Some of these individuals have been with Dairy One longer than I have been alive. Although these conversations were brief, it was valuable to be able to listen and discuss their perspectives and hear the common passion people from all over of the company bring to their work.
Growing up in Cayuga County and continuing my education at Cornell, I have developed many relationships with farmers around the area. One project I worked on was talking to some of these dairy farm owners and managers to hear their perspective on what they valued most out of their relationship with Dairy One. Every person I spoke to immediately said support. These individuals rely on the knowledgeable team from Dairy One for support ranging from SCR, IT, Dairy Comp, to other general support. “I pick up a phone and call them, and they take care of it … I value all of it,” said one customer. Another said, “Dairy One is here for us and educated, they know what they are doing,”. These conversations were a helpful way for me to hear what farms find most valuable about Dairy One, but also gave the Dairy One team feedback as to what is working well and what needs improvement.
Reflecting on my Internship
Over my time with Dairy One I worked on a variety of projects big and small. An advantage of being the Marketing and Communications Intern was that through these projects, I got to work with people all over the company including the precision agronomy team, software team, DHI teams, forage group, and more. Although technically different parts of Dairy One, everyone is committed to helping their customers succeed and bringing that extra value to those relationships. It took about two days for me to realize not just how hard-working and dedicated this group is, but also understanding. Farming is not just a job, but a way of life. For many people here, working for Dairy One is not just a job either. We work with farmers through the good years and bad, the dry and wet spells, and we exist to help our customers succeed.
The experience as a whole gave me the opportunity to achieve the goals I had set for myself earlier this spring. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, I had to act as a sponge to understand what Dairy One does, but also understand why. I was able to develop some of my hard and soft professional skills, including writing and customer support. Over time, I became more comfortable with writing pieces on topics I had limited background knowledge on and was able to fine tune some of my customer support skills through calling customers for a variety of reasons. As a recent graduate, I was looking for a company that would not only invest in me and my future, but also in the longevity of its customers, and Dairy One is a company that achieves that.
I would like to thank the team at Dairy One for allowing me the opportunity to learn and work as an intern over the last three months. A special thanks to Molly for the endless help and support along the way. It’s safe to say not much went as planned over the last year, but things have a way of working out in the long run. I appreciate and value my time spent with Dairy One as I look forward to starting my full-time career with Farm Credit East in the near future.