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Agricultural cooperatives are prominent employers across Nebraska. Several have developed internship programs. Cooperatives recruit interns to attract fulltime position applicants, to expose interns to various aspects of the cooperative business model as well as addressing short term labor needs. Students participate in internships to develop skills for career planning.
Nebraska agricultural cooperatives offered approximately one 100 internships in 2019. The number of cooperatives offering internships is increasing; at least two offered internships for the first time last year. Others are looking to strengthen their existing programs.
Internship program design varies across cooperatives. Relatively small agricultural cooperatives provide an overall work education experience, participating in duties in agronomy-related tasks and assisting customers. The larger cooperatives may offer a job shadow experience. Interns observe someone completing their job duties and get a sense of what the job is really like. Relatively large cooperatives may offer a more structured internship experience. For example, accounting interns learn how to complete general ledgers and merchandising interns learn how to trade commodities. Other internships include completing a project and describing the findings to employees. Engaged management teams have employees who oversee internship program development and improvement; an ongoing conversation between staff and senior management develops the program.