Aug. 16 2021 09:43 AM

As my internship with Hoard’s Dairyman comes to a close, I reflect on the skills and knowledge I learned about communications and the dairy industry.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Throughout my entire life, my answer to this repetitive question constantly changed. In kindergarten, I wanted to be a cheerleader and in middle school, I wanted to be a heart surgeon. The future I wanted for myself was never clear, until I found my path in agriculture.

Like many others, I was oblivious to all the career options in the agriculture industry. I wasn’t sure if I could become as good of a dairy farmer as my dad and I had different interests pulling me in other directions. I enjoyed conversing, storytelling, and being creative. After many years of uncertainty, I finally realized that doing communications for the dairy industry was the perfect route for me.

In October of 2020, I wanted to further explore this interest and solidify that this is where I want to spend the rest of my life. This summer, I was able to combine my passions for dairy and communications as the editorial intern for Hoard’s Dairyman. From this experience, I have formed strong relationships, learned valuable skills, and realized that this is the perfect direction for me.

Throughout the summer, I have been expanding my writing skills and learning how to tell an accurate and compelling story. From writing about technical scientific research to detailing a farm family’s history, I have grown in my capabilities and am more confident about sharing information. Here are some of the most valuable things I learned with Hoard’s Dairyman:

1. Other’s advice and suggestions do not mean that you are wrong. To be able to produce the best article for our readers, the editorial team at Hoard’s Dairyman routes articles through at least five other people. I learned to take the recommendations and understand that these corrections help create a better story and make me a better writer.

2. Listen intently. I never would have thought that I would be learning how to listen at 21 years old. To capture a subject’s entire story and write the best piece possible, I had to listen to capture every detail. As a writer, you are telling someone else’s story, so you must listen and ask in depth questions.

3. Follow your curiosity. If there is a subject you want to learn more about, it is highly possible that someone else wants to know more, too. When writing about challenging topics, don’t be afraid to simplify things. If you have a hard time understanding it, your audience may very well feel the same way.

4. Everyone has their own story. When it comes to dairy farming, no two farms are alike. Each is unique and has its own special characteristics. Whether it is the people, the buildings, the genetics, or the history, it is like no other dairy farm and it should not be viewed as wrong or less successful for any of those reasons.

Who would have figured that this once cheerleader/surgeon wannabe would be interning with Hoard’s Dairyman her final summer of college? Even though my ideal career path has changed over time, I know that I am now in the right place, learning more about what I love.

Jessica Schmitt

Jessica Schmitt grew up working on her family’s dairy farm near Fort Atkinson, Iowa. She recently completed her junior year at Iowa State University where she is triple majoring in dairy science, international agriculture, and agricultural and life sciences education with a communications option. Schmitt is serving as the 2021 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern this summer.