AGademics: How Sanderson Farms Summer Interns Learn about Agriculture both Inside and Outside the Classroom

Since middle school, Madison Richardson has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but that was before she spent a summer in Sanderson Farms’ summer internship program last year. An animal science major at the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, she has loved being around all types of animals for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was introduced to the poultry industry that she fell in love with a specific aspect of agriculture.

“I enjoyed working at the processing facility and learning the aspects of how that facility functions and all of the teamwork that is required to make the process from farm to table happen,” said Richardson. “I learned so much in that first summer as an intern that I knew I wanted to return in 2022 for another internship with Sanderson Farms, if given the opportunity.”

Considering Richardson’s animal science academic background, she found the live production side of the industry to be fascinating and has particularly enjoyed working in the company’s breeder department. Learning about bird genetics, fertility, nutrition and overall health has been exciting to Richardson now that she is able to apply her academic knowledge gained from the classroom in the field of agriculture.

“I’ve learned everything I know about chickens from Sanderson Farms,” said Richardson. “Coming into this internship, I knew the basics about chickens, but since participating in this internship, my knowledge of chickens and the processing side of the business has grown.”

Sanderson Farms’ summer internship program is a paid, 10-week internship program that allows students to gain real-world experience, develop professionally, learn about the poultry industry and earn opportunities for full-time employment with the company. As an intern, students have the opportunity to work in four key areas of the company’s business, which are live production, processing, prepared foods and corporate administration.

“I would recommend the summer internship program to friends because Sanderson Farms is like a big family, and everyone in all aspects of the company are welcoming and helpful,” said Richardson. “Ever since my first summer in the program, I have thought about a future career with Sanderson Farms, and now that I am in my second internship with the company, I am only left with more excitement and motivation to become a full-time Sanderson Farms employee once I graduate next year.”

After their initial introduction to the company, qualified Sanderson Farms interns are eligible to pursue full-time employment with the company in the corporate trainee program. In fiscal year 2021, over 11% of corporate trainees hired were former interns with Sanderson Farms.

“Success stories like Madison’s story are the reason we invest so much energy in talent acquisition and development,” said Romika Wells, director of organization development and training at Sanderson Farms. “Identifying the right people for the right roles within the company is crucial to our continued success for generations to come. Thank you to all of the interns in the summer internship program this year for their hard work and commitment to our company’s success.”