With some prep, hope and prayers, Summer Internship Program was a success

Published 7:53 am Friday, August 10, 2012

Allison Godwin

There’s always that moment of hesitation, when you close your eyes, run through your action plans, and hope and pray that you haven’t missed even the slightest detail. That’s what our Association did at the end of May, in anticipation of three college interns who were set to join our Association for eight weeks of intensive learning about everything Farm Credit.

Recognizing that at least one intern had no background in agriculture, and the other two had only limited business experience, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect as we embarked on eight weeks with some very early 20-somethings with bright eyes and big dreams!

To say that our recruiting and selection process was thorough would be an understatement. In an effort to reach out to a diverse group of students from throughout the Southeast, we took our message from Auburn to Athens, Tallahassee to Gainesville, and everywhere in between. We had enough applications that it took a committee of six Farm Credit employees to evaluate each one, conduct interviews and select the interns.

Eight weeks later, all we can say is, we can’t wait to do it all again!

Through four learning modules, our interns explored credit, sales, operations and executive leadership. They visited farms, talked to our customers, met with our Board of Directors, and detailed a cost-benefit analysis on irrigation systems. If you hear that “Generation Y” is anything short of highly talented, don’t believe a word of it — if our interns were a good example. They have great expectations for themselves and their peers, great respect for what they can learn from others, and they demonstrated an incredible capability to work as part of a team.

We are confident we gave them eight weeks of hands-on learning they might not have been able to get in another organization. We touted the benefits of living and working in rural America. We showed them everything about our process and explained our mission to enhance the quality of life in the communities we serve. We explained the benefits of doing business with a cooperative — after all, when we make a profit, we return it to our member-borrowers.

In the end, it is our organization that benefited from this learning experience. Diversity in thoughts, opinions and ideas is paramount to staying on the counting edge as a lender. We need to understand all of our customers — the ones who communicate on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the farmer with a 25-acre blueberry farm or a 5,000-acre row crop operation. Programs like this help us grow.

In about a month, we will be recruiting students to participate in our 2013 program. We can’t wait to see what we learn next summer.

Allison Godwin is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She has been employed by Southwest Georgia Farm Credit for 14 years, most recently as Assistant Controller. Godwin actively recruits college students from throughout the Southeast to participate in the Association’s Summer Internship Program. For more information, contact Godwin at agodwin@SWGAFarmCredit.com.