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

As a child, Connor Miller had big dreams of becoming an astronaut or an architect, but neither of those grand plans included him working in the poultry industry even after Miller pursued a degree in computer engineering technology. Now an undergraduate student at Southeastern Louisiana University, Miller reflects fondly on how he once dedicated hours a day to designing and building anything his childhood imagination could conjure with Legos, and now he dedicates hours of his day to designing and building computer hardware.

“I have always had an aptitude for STEM subjects, so an engineering discipline was the obvious path for me,” said Miller. “I want to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and I believe that becoming a computer engineer is the most efficient use of my knowledge and skills to achieve that goal.”

When the opportunity to apply his computer engineering background in Sanderson Farms’ summer internship program presented itself, Miller could not deny the opportunity to work for a Fortune 1000 company. “Sanderson Farms is a staple in the American food industry,” said Miller. “An opportunity to join the management information systems team here and learn firsthand how a corporate enterprise network is managed was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The culture here is one aimed at being the best company in the business, and to work for a company with that mission is a very valuable experience.”

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 following graduation. 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.

“My favorite part of the internship so far would definitely be the endless opportunities to learn,” said Miller. “Learning fundamentals in the classroom is one thing, but learning to apply them in a corporate enterprise work environment is another. Every day that I am here I am flooded with knowledge, and I am just trying to absorb as much of it as I can.”

Following the completion of his undergraduate degree, Miller plans to attend graduate school and pursue a Master of Science in Computer Engineering degree. After that, he plans to work his way up in the field of applied computer engineering with a company and role that allows him to make a difference in the world.

“My education thus far has been very focused on computer hardware design,” said Miller. “This internship has really opened my mind to the possibility of pursuing a career on the computer networking side of things. I would be very happy to accept a job working at Sanderson Farms if the opportunity presents itself. The people here are wonderful and it really seems like all of the employees are valued and taken care of.”

Prior to beginning his internship, Miller had very little knowledge of the poultry industry, therefore he had a lot to learn in a short period of time. From networking fundamentals and security to server and hardware administration, Miller’s course of study in the 10-week internship program has certainly been an accelerated learning environment.

“Connor has been a welcome addition to the management information systems department during his internship,” said Joe Dykes, network manager for Sanderson Farms, who serves as Connor’s supervisor in the internship program. “He has a great attitude, and is always willing to jump in with other team members to learn anything he can. I admire Connor’s professionalism and his focus on working hard to attain his goals. I have no doubt that he will continue to be successful as he completes his internship and his degree program.”