Students in our department majoring in Food Science and Poultry Science (production or pre-veterinarian) are required to complete an internship before graduation. Through internships, students can explore the fields of poultry and food science and test their skills under the supervision of experienced members of the industry.
Students are encouraged to experience different facets of the industry in the internship from work in the hatcheries, to poultry production, all the way to further-processed product development. With real world experience in various departments in the industry, students are able to safely test the waters in these facets and discover their passion in the industry they’ll enter after graduation.
Though Tyson Foods LLC is known across the country for it’s high-quality poultry products, Tyson also processes beef and pork, and produce a variety of prepared foods. Today, Tyson owns over 35 brands that produce a range of products.
“Tyson produces everything from fresh chicken, bacon, hotdogs, pizza crust and bread to pies,” Emma Williams, Senior in Food Science, said. “My time at the plant was spent learning about the fully processed products, shadowing supervisors and technicians to learn about their involvement in the process.”
Emma is a Food Science major, planning to graduate in May 2016. Her internship with Tyson Foods in the summer of 2015 gave her hands-on experience in the food science industry. She was able to shadow professionals, identify issues within the product development process and use critical thinking skills to find solutions to those issues.
Emma’s role as an intern gave her insight into the Food Safety and Quality Assurance in relation to the production process. She said, “food safety and quality assurance managers want to produce the safest quality product for customers, and production wants to produce a high yield of that product, so if there was a problem on one side, it usually related with the other side.
This type of problem solving within a real world industry setting is invaluable to food science students.
“This is the best learning experience I could have ever asked for,” Emma said. Relating well to her superiors and enjoying Tyson’s care for employees, Emma accepted a full-time position with Tyson in Arkansas that she will begin post-graduation.
John Allen Nichols, currently a senior majoring in poultry science, spent his summer interning with the National Turkey Federation in Washington D.C. Working closely with Government Relations, he was able to work within governmental policies and systems surrounding the poultry industry. This invaluable experience in the Capitol is just one of the many ways our program encourages students to learn beyond the classroom outside of the classroom.
“I learned more than I ever expected to this summer, not only about the turkey industry specifically, but about our governmental system as a whole,” says John Allen, “I also have a much deeper appreciation for state associations and departments of agriculture. This experience gave me insight into how necessary each level of a governing body is to its success.”
Student internships are an integral part of our poultry program, allowing students to experience the industry first-person, and to begin critically applying their coursework in the real world.
When asked how his classes helped shape his internship experience, John Allen remarked, “Poultry classes truly did help me to understand issues that we discussed. Though our classwork is not “turkey specific” it was easily carried over to turkey issues.” He continued, “Dr. Lien’s physiology class in particular helped me to understand and discuss with confidence the Avian influenza issue.
Internships usually help students firmly grasp their career goals beyond graduation. “While my experience was fantastic, I realized that the federal government is not where I want to forge a career path,” John Allen says. He hopes to attend law school next year and wishes to focus on agricultural law & policy.
Kasey Blore interned this summer with Aviagen in the product development center in Albertville, Alabama. Aviagen provided Kasey with company housing and a stipend for the summer.
Kasey gained valuable experience in different areas of the company, including the hatchery, processing plant, broilers, breeders, office, and research/trials. She was given her own project this summer determining the effect of short periods of incubation during egg storage (SPIDES) on hatchability.
Kasey’s goal was to find out if this would increase hatchability or not. The eggs for her trail were obtained from a Ross x 308 prime flock (33 weeks of age) over one day of production. These eggs were randomized and put into 6 treatment groups.
Her conclusion was that it is best to set eggs within a week of being laid, but hatchability can be maximized by using SPIDES treatments. Kasey would recommend this internship, because of the insight into the industry she received.
In summer 2014, Karri Fievet, then Vice President of the Poultry Science Club, interned with Tyson Foods.
Karri’s internship was located in Forest, Mississippi. Kari worked in the largest feed mill and hatchery in Tyson Foods’ company. They employ 1,250 team members and harvest roughly 2,000,000 chickens each week.
Her work at the feed mill and hatchery was focused mostly on working in the cut-up department. In this department, they cut up chicken for fast food restaurants. Her shifts usually lasted from around 10-12 hours a day.
Karri encourages any and every one to complete an internship, because of the valuable experience you can receive from working in the industry. Working for Tyson wasn’t all that Karri accomplished while in Forest, Mississippi.
She also at a church helping with Vacation Bible School, and visited different local attractions.
Traveling for internships can sometimes seem intimidating, but can be one of the best ways to learn about yourself. Have you always pictured staying in Alabama?
A summer internship is an excellent trial period to explore a new city and experience living away from your hometown. Consider applying for a short internship outside of your comfort zone, you never know, you could surprise yourself!
For 12 weeks of the summer Jamie Campbell interned with Wayne Farms at the processing plant in Jack, Alabama. She lived in Daleville, Alabama over the summer and traveled to Jack every day.
Her project was to look at the various aspects of the processing plant and find ways to improve them regarding yield.
At Wayne Farms processing plant, 75% of their meat goes to Chik-fil-a. Jamie would highly recommend this internship.
Jaime knew she’d enjoy working at Wayne Farms, but also had other offers from various companies in the industry. What if you’ve never heard of a company before?
It’s always a good idea to do some background checking before interviewing for an internship. Learn about the company’s philosophy, work ethic, typical job duties, and employee structure. This way, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into – while also being able to answer questions more fully during your interview!
Jamie found her internship by interviewing at the 2014 International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.
This summer, ten of our Poultry Science students traveled all over the country, from Alabama and Mississippi, to Georgia and even Washington D.C. to complete internships. Internships are an important part of their studies here at Auburn University. Through these internships, students gain real life experience about the industry, and what their career could look like after graduation.
While these students worked this summer, they mad important industry contacts, and built up a social network with impressive companies, which can positively impact their future employment.
Just as many students thrive in their internship and realize their passions, some look at their summer internship as a trial and error period. This program allows them to visit a city or state over the summer, providing an opportunity to explore whether or not they want to move far away, stay close to home, or anywhere in between. For the students that loved their internships, they start to make plans for the future.
Throughout their years at Auburn University, students are searching for and learning what they find enjoyable, not only through studies, but working in the field as well. As one Poultry Science student notes, “This is one of the best experiences you can receive as a student working toward your future.”