Animal science major lands internship with Cargill after Ag Career Day encounter

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The typical procedure for most students applying for a job or internship these days starts by applying online, and then later, they hope, getting an in-person interview. But Matthew Leise was able to short-circuit the process at Ag Career Day — and he was greatly rewarded.

At the annual event held by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences — which is scheduled for Oct. 11 this year at the Bryce Jordan Center — the senior animal science major talked last year with representatives of Cargill Animal Nutrition, and they were impressed enough by him to schedule an interview. That led to several more interviews, which eventually resulted in Leise securing a widely coveted dairy nutrition internship with the giant of the agriculture industry.

Coming from a dairy farm in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, Leise had an interest in the dairy industry from the beginning. Growing up as the oldest of three siblings, he had to juggle helping out on the farm and pursuing his career interests. When he came to Penn State, it was a no-brainer for him to choose the animal science major and select a dairy emphasis — and he's never regretted the decision.

"Cargill is definitely a competitive company to get into, but I enjoyed the face-to-face aspect of meeting company representatives at Ag Career Day because I like to think I interview well and have been successful at selling myself. It is harder to do that with just a resume alone."

During the summer internship, Leise traveled from his base location in State College mostly to farms in Pennsylvania, although he did visit farms in Maryland, New York and Virginia, too.

"Traveling to the different farms gave me a 360-degree experience of what animal nutritionists do," he said. "I got to see some of the ups and downs of a career as a dairy nutritionist."

As his internship progressed, so did Leise. He began riding with nutritionists onto farms where they would evaluate and discuss the agricultural operation. He learned a lot from talking to the farmers and animal nutritionists about how producers collect their milk and protect its quality.

"From the nutritionist to the truck driver, Cargill likes to keep a very happy, healthy environment, and that's exactly what I got to see," he said. "People don't realize that Cargill has a big part in the food we eat every day. The company's employees have a passion to do their jobs well, and that inspired me."

Looking ahead, Leise is hoping for job offers from nutrition, reproduction and other companies within the dairy industry. He's hoping to make more connections at this year's Ag Career Day.

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Last Updated September 29, 2016