Student Stories: Horticulture major interns with international corporation

January 06, 2014

Sean Fitzsimmons was one of the lucky 13 chosen from around the country to work as an intern at Ball Horticultural Co. in 2012.

The fifth-year Penn State horticulture student was thrilled to land the position at the huge international corporation's North American plant in Chicago.

"Ball is one of the biggest names in horticulture," the Frankfort, Ill., native said. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with them."

The main project Fitzsimmons worked on was comparing unreleased varieties of vegetables and flowers developed by Ball to those of existing and new varieties from the company's competitors.

But Fitzsimmons found himself doing a myriad of tasks that ranged from planting an aquatic garden to monitoring vegetable research, and from setting up a trade show booth to working on an ad campaign with the marketing department.

Besides their required everyday tasks, interns had the opportunity to mold their internship experience. "If you were interested in an ongoing project in any department, you could be a part of it," said Fitzsimmons. "All you had to do was ask."

One of the best aspects of the internship, according to Fitzsimmons, was that every other week all of the interns from around the company gathered to hear a presentation from people in each department and tour their facility. They heard presentations from plant breeders, in-house growers, the marketing department and supplier relations staff, among others.

"For someone like me who was still a bit unsure of what I wanted to do within the field of horticulture, these meetings were invaluable," he said

One of the perks Fitzsimmons experienced was the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Anna Ball, the CEO.

"On several occasions, I met with her for 45 minutes to an hour just to pick her brain on her experiences and career advice, and she was more than happy to do so," Fitzsimmons said.

"It's rare that you find a CEO of a multibillion dollar international corporation who sets aside enough time to personally ask a lowly intern for coffee, let alone hold an hour-long discussion."

Get information about the Horticulture major.

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Last Updated January 06, 2014