Did you know that each summer, senior 4-H members and recent alumni have the opportunity to access exciting internship opportunities through the 4-H Canada Careers on the Grow (COTG) program?

COTG interns get hands-on learning experience with companies, organizations, farms, social enterprises, in rural and urban communities across Canada. These placements not only provide practical career experience, but also allow you to network and create professional connections that can lead to exciting options for your career future.

Want to know more? Keep reading to hear all about the COTG internship experience straight from the keyboards of 2023 COTG Interns.

Q&A: Intern Insight

What inspired you to apply for a COTG internship?

Hashim: I decided to apply because the program offers valuable real-world experience, while also granting academic credit for my co-op class.

Olivia: I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get exposed to agriculture within a business. I also liked the idea of working outside of Newfoundland and discovering a new place.

How did you decide which internship to apply for, and what interested you about that career field?

Hashim: I researched various organizations and applied to those where I felt I could best apply my skills in data analysis and software development. My interest in this field stems from my academic focus and part-time jobs.

Olivia: The internship at BASF fit my schedule, and the job description interested me. I wasn’t familiar with HR and wanted to try something new.

What was your internship experience like?

Hashim: I had the privilege of working in two distinctly different environments over the summer.

My first internship was a six-week role as an Intern with the Canadian Red Cross. This internship was conducted remotely from Nova Scotia. My primary responsibility was to assist the data migration team in transitioning from multiple decentralized databases to a centralized system. I conducted quality assurance checks, flagged anomalies, and even had a chance to work on implementing AI for copywriting to attract more volunteers. This role allowed me to see how a large humanitarian organization utilizes data to make impactful decisions.

My second internship was an eight-week engagement with Cargill, located in McLennan, AB. I spent the initial phase of my internship learning about the agricultural aspects of the business, from the growth and chemical treatment of crops to identifying diseases that could affect them. I went on site visits to farmers' fields to understand their challenges, and helped in scouting fields to identify potential issues.

As the internship progressed, I also found that my background in data analytics and software development could be leveraged in a meaningful way. I collaborated with the Crop Inputs Team to analyze crop data for actionable insights.

Olivia: My internship was eight weeks, July through August, with BASF in Calgary, AB. I wanted to spend some of my summer in Newfoundland, so I decided to work in-person during July, and online in August. Throughout my internship, I worked closely with the HR team. Immediately, I felt so welcomed and included by them. I even had my own office space! I enjoyed working on student recruitment.

I had the opportunity to make new company swag suggestions, work on an ambassador program handbook, as well as hiring manager etiquette forms for career fairs, and much more. I was able to sit in on many meetings and even a few interviews. I also joined the HR team on a trip to Lethbridge, AB, and we were able to see different canola plots and the production plant.

What were your biggest take-aways from the internship?

Hashim: I gained a broader understanding of how data-driven decisions can impact real-world operations. I also gained practical experience about agriculture and the challenges that are faced by growers daily.

Olivia: It’s hard to list just one thing that I’ve taken away from this internship, because I have truly gained so much. I think my three biggest takeaways are that my technology skills have grown, BASF exposed me to many other careers that I was unaware of, and I learned to be more independent, as it was the first time living on my own.

What’s next for you, post-internship?

Hashim: Upon completing my academic journey at Brandon University, my ambitions are set high with a clear roadmap for my career. My ultimate goal is to launch my own startup in the AgTech industry, a decision significantly influenced by my experiences in data analytics, software development, and my recent internship at Cargill.

I am keen on finding a position within the AgTech sector, as it sits perfectly at the intersection of technology and agriculture—two fields I am deeply passionate about. Working in this hybrid environment, I believe, will equip me with the necessary insights and practical experience that are crucial for eventually launching my own venture.

Olivia: I am currently completing my first year of business at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. My internship with BASF definitely put me a step ahead, as I got to experience HR.


What advice would you give to someone interested in a COTG internship?

Hashim: If you're considering applying for a COTG internship, the first piece of advice I have is to thoroughly research the companies and roles you're interested in. Don't be disheartened by the requirements listed for the role. It's crucial to remember that job descriptions are often a wish list, and not meeting every single criterion shouldn't discourage you from applying. In my own experience, I landed an internship in agriculture at Cargill without having a directly relevant educational background.

Olivia: Apply, apply, apply! You get the most out of 4-H by taking advantage of the amazing opportunities they offer. There is really no harm in applying. “It’s better to have a life of oh wells, then a life of what ifs”.

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