This past summer, I was fortunate enough to secure a business internship with Rosedale Farms & Vineyard in Simsbury, Connecticut. Admittedly, I’ve gotten a lot of strange looks from people when I tell them that I had an internship on a farm.
Many thought it was beneath my abilities, but it ended up being quite the contrary; it tested my limits. Growing up in a little farm town, I’ve worked my fair share in agriculture, but always in a labor sense — never in a business sense. My grandparents owned and operated a vegetable farm for close to sixty years, and while they taught me the physical aspects of maintaining and running an agricultural enterprise, I unfortunately never had the opportunity to learn the economics behind it.
I decided halfway through the spring semester to begin looking for internships and businesses that could potentially provide me with meaningful employment in the desired field. A family friend referred me to one of their colleagues in a neighboring town that had quite a diversified operation called “Rosedale.” I did some more research and discovered that the operation had won many high accolades and had a substantial web presence, something that a marketing major such as me could learn a lot from. On a whim, I did some more research and found that at one point, Rosedale did have marketing interns in the realms of content development and social media management. I took the plunge and sent off my resume and cover letter to the provided email and then waited a bit. Two weeks passed by, and finally I decided to call the number on the website as a follow-up. A few games of phone tag and a lengthy message of recommendation from a family friend that did business with him later and I had landed an internship.
There was no job description initially, but my employer needed someone to maintain the web presence because his current web guy had just left. My responsibilities started to quickly add up though; I became the photographer and videographer, the event coordinator, delivery driver, wholesale coordinator and all sorts of other odds and ends. I essentially had two jobs. First, my internship where I maintained the online material, coordinated business to business sales, and coordinated events (250+ attendees). Second, my employer let me pick up some other hours working in the fields and vineyard. Since I had experience in the past with some of the work, and because of my age, I became a supervisor of sorts for those younger than me.
When I took over, the social media had been severely neglected. They hadn’t been updated in close to six months and the creative content (pictures, logos, etc.) were incredibly outdated. Facebook Analytics allowed me to see exactly what the demographic makeup was of those engaged with us on social media, and using that I was able to customize our posts and content to match. The majority of the social media followers (51 percent) ended up being women between the ages of 25 and 44. Overall, men only made up around 21 percent of the social media circle. At times, I experimented with live tweeting events and found that it was advantageous to tag other businesses in tweets. Those tweets would get retweeted by those companies and then grow your own message reach and follower base. Announcement posts have historically been the highest grossing social media actions that we utilized.
I’m really thankful that my employer took a chance on me. While I was by no means a professional when he took me on, the experience I gained really allowed me to grow professionally and as an individual. My advice to anyone looking for an internship is don’t be discouraged if the place you want to work isn’t publicly offering positions. Sometimes making that cold call and showing that initiative will resound in their initial impression of you. They may even offer you a position, but the worst that can happen is they say no.
(Featured image: Myself with the owners of Rosedale Farms & Vineyard, Marshall and Lynn Epstein)