Lauren Horne
Lauren Horne

My name is Lauren, and I am a senior at the University of North Alabama. My major is professional writing with a minor in photography. Everyone asks me, “What do you do with a major like professional writing?” My former response was something like, “Oh, write and edit technical documents, textbooks,  medical papers, or something like that.”

Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? To be honest, I really didn’t have a super clear answer for those people.

This summer I interned with the communications unit at IFDC, and my answers became much clearer. IFDC has helped me much more than I ever imagined. I thought that interns were subject to taking coffee orders and running errands but, with IFDC, that was not the case.

At the beginning of the summer, all of the interns met once a week with IFDC staff from various backgrounds and expertise to discuss professional development. We learned about budgeting, participated in mock interviews, and learned how to accept a real job with all of the benefits. Everyone was so friendly and supportive; they really wanted to help me have a great future! I feel much more conditioned for the “real,” professional world, and I owe that to my internship with IFDC.

I also got to be a part of something much bigger than what is right outside my door. I learned how farmers in Africa and Asia are benefiting from the work that IFDC does here in the Shoals. I interacted with individuals from all over the world, and I learned so much from their work. I edited, conducted research, edited, wrote articles, edited, created a research poster, and did a little more editing. Did I mention that I did some editing? All the while I learned about the science around fertilizers and the names of farmers and farming tactics in countries that I have never even been to.

For example, I learned about Rini Begum, a farmer in Bangladesh who is taking the role of women on the farm to a whole new level.  Because of her diligence and the training she received through IFDC, Rini was able to introduce her husband to better farming methods that helped her family get out of debt and start making a profit. Being able to share her amazing story and see the impact that IFDC has on farmers across Africa and Southeast Asia is so rewarding.

So, here is my advice: get an internship. This summer, I learned about myself, about my aspiring profession, and about individuals across the globe. I have more confidence in my abilities than ever, and I look forward to seeing where this experience propels me.

What is professional writing good for? Influencing lives. What is an internship good for? Influencing your own.