Aspirations in Computing Explores Land O’Lakes’ AgTech
2019 Summer Internship Highlights
Land O’Lakes has been a five year partner of the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program. An engagement strategy of the program is to place top-level female high school honorees in paid summer internships. The program serves multiple purposes:
- It introduces the select interns to technical roles within Land O’Lakes.
- It allows the student and company to consider a talent fit to address future hiring needs and career aspirations.
- It provides the company access to unparalleled female technology talent who also possess strong professional (soft) skills.
This summer, Maple Grove Area High School senior Stuti Arora, 2019 Roseville Area High School graduate Amiyah Hunter, and 2018 Burnsville High School graduate Fiona Chow, participated in an extended internship opportunity at the Land O’Lakes headquarters in Arden Hills. Recently, the three young women were invited to present to a room packed with company leaders and colleagues, sharing their technology passion and interests, as well as their company projects and duties.
Land O’Lakes program leaders posed with interns following their presentations. Pictured left to right: Michael Burke. Fiona Chow, Beth McMillian, Amiyah Hunter, Erik Syste, and Stuti Arora
“The presentation by the summer interns was both inspirational and a proud moment for our company’s involvement and sponsorship of the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) program. Land O’Lakes understands that a diverse talent pool is essential to future success. We constantly face difficult problems and exposure to new disruptive technologies that require collaborative work to find unique solutions. At Land O’Lakes, we value diversity and inclusion as one of our main assets to achievement. This core concept translates to all our departments, including IT”, says Beth McMillian, Sr. Manager, IT Portfolio and champion of the Aspirations talent development connection at Land O’Lakes .
When asked their perspectives of the internship experience and the presentation opportunity, this is what the young women offered:
“This year I was an IT intern in the WinField United AgTech Agile Project team. I have gained many key learnings through this internship, both technical and professional. Regarding technical skills, I became comfortable with Microsoft Suite and the different components of Android Development, from the environment we code in (Android Studios) to testing code through virtual devices and emulators. On the other hand, I learned how to interact with colleagues outside of my immediate team, learned about different roles and how employees apply their education in a real job. It was an enriching experience!”
As for her thoughts about the presentation, she added, “I had prepared extensively for my presentation, yet as expected, I was nervous to present in front of a room full of Land O’ Lakes employees and the IT management team (including the CTO and CIO). Although, as I looked around the room at the start of my presentation, I realized I had interacted with almost everyone in the room! This helped ease the nervousness, and allowed me to deliver a very well received presentation.” – Stuti Arora
“I was part of the Dairy Agile Team this summer. My responsibilities included helping to put together the ‘Contact Us’ page for microsites that featured some new projects and to also help with testing on a Salesforce Marketing Cloud project. The biggest thing I have learned this summer was understanding the bigger picture by seeing how each team and role fits into the creation of the final product.
The week leading up to the presentation, I was really nervous as I put my PowerPoint presentation together. However, as I did multiple practice presentations to close co-workers, I felt more confident and comfortable about the presentation. The day of the presentation, my nervousness grew as I watched the room fill up. But as soon as it was my turn to present, my nerves faded away and the words flowed as I shared the work I did this summer with my Land O’Lakes colleagues. After the presentation, everyone expressed their support and positive feedback which reminded me of all that I am capable of and can accomplish.” – Fiona Chow
Aspirations Interns flash their smiles during a break in their duties. Pictured left to right: Amiyah Hunter, Stuti Arora, and Fiona Chow.
Ann Taylor, Director of Talent Acquisition, believes the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program talent at Land O’Lakes defines the company and its future, which is why introducing high school students to Ag is vital — “With such a small and shrinking percentage of the population who are tied in some way to food and agriculture, getting students engaged earlier than ever before is critical to exposing them to the industry and educating them about the possibilities.” Ann, says.
Since 2016, Land O’Lakes has partnered with Aspirations in Computing to provide summer internships to high school students interested in technology education and careers. Eleven Aspirations interns have been placed at the Fortune 500 Company; and many have returned for further internship work during their college years. The 2019 summer internship program was the first year at Land O’Lakes to include an end of internship presentation. This provided the interns with an opportunity to practice their presentation skills and gave the company’s IT leaders a view of the talent pipeline available through the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program.
MNAiC recently declared their 2020 goal is to place all of the top-level honorees with a Minnesota employment experience. The summer 2019 program placed 9 of 23 honorees. Unfortunately, 14 young women, possessing exceptional technology talent were not introduced to a Minnesota company. According to the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships, Russell Fraenkel, “Minnesota can’t risk losing short and long-term talent to businesses in other states. And that’s what is happening, especially if the student attends college in another state. Engaging and developing a connection during a student’s high school years, makes for a great return on investment.”
Will the 2020 vision to ensure that Minnesota’s young female tech stars remain close to home be realized? You and your company can play a pivotal role in putting this excellent source of talent to work. To learn more about how your company can get involved by visiting the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing website.
ABOUT LAND O’ LAKES
Land O’ Lakes is committed to making our world a better place. The company helps independently owned and operated agricultural retailers compete by providing these retailers with technical know-how, proprietary tools and research-based solutions to help farmers win in the field—and in the marketplace. Learn more: www.landolakesinc.com
ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning! Over 300 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.