The Value of the Farm and Ranch Internship
By: Justin Bryan
When it comes to business, being able to bring together the ideal team of employees can be quite a challenge. Personnel obviously create the positive or negative daily flow of a business. When it comes to the management of a ranch or farm, because of the close relationship employees generally have with the owner, the staff plays a very large role in the enjoyment a landowner realizes from his/her investment. Therefore, it is imperative a great team is assembled in order to assist them in creating and sustaining the experiences they desire from their property. In regards to support staffing options, one that is often overlooked is the use of interns and the value of ranch internships
Like any profession, students who have a desire to succeed in their chosen field understand the value in acquiring substantial hands-on experience and creating professional connections. Undergraduates pursuing degrees in agriculture, ranch management, wildlife and fisheries biology are no different. The ideal situation for these students is to work directly with a progressive manager that will create the chance to procure resume enhancing opportunities. Such as building fence, painting, plowing/planting fields, data entry, guiding hunts, working livestock, collecting field data, implementing prescribed fires, etc. Obviously nothing glorious but essential non-the-less to their development. In return, the students provide a motivated, partially higher educated, healthy 18 – 25-year-old, who only requires a $1,000 – $1,500 per month stipend and housing. A ranch internship is beneficial to you as the landowner, and even more to the students you hire.
Looking at the broad picture, a ranch internship program offers quite a few benefits to a landowner. Since these are typically at least 3 month endeavors, corresponding with college semesters or summer breaks, landowners are essentially afforded a chance to conduct a lengthy “job interview” with these students. Prospective interns are generally juniors or seniors which represent possible, future full-time employees. Within this time period of a ranch internship a potential candidate can be evaluated on a number of factors such as their ability to work effectively with other staff as well as how quickly they embrace the current management practices. Additionally, landowners can evaluate the potential candidate’s personality and level of knowledge/desire/ability/willingness to learn. A few other key characteristics include work ethic, communication skills, and the ranch interns desire to continually improve themselves personally and professionally.
As with any business or internship, the ranch internship is a significant tool to use. From a landowner’s perspective it provides a very good situation for evaluating talent. Essentially “trying out” a new employee before committing to them. If at the end of three months, the intern has proven to be a valuable asset to the property then communication can continue. If they have not, then no feelings are hurt and both parties, part ways when the term has ended. A key point to remember here, is that this process as well allows the intern the chance to evaluate his/her own satisfaction with the position. In other words, is this really what they want to do with their life or where they want to work?
Hiring is never 100% perfect therefore using the tools we have available when appropriate is important in the process. From detailed interviews, to recommendations, to ranch internships, we do the best we can to fit the right person in the right position for the best opportunity at success.