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

From early childhood, John David James was always surrounded by tools and machines, which developed into a passion for maintenance and mechanics later in life. As an adult, he is making his childhood dream a reality by studying industrial maintenance technology at Tyler Junior College in Texas.

Through his degree program, James was introduced to Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ summer internship program during a class presentation from the company’s recruiting team. “The machines utilized in the company’s operation that they told us about in class sounded very interesting to me,” said James.

While he had never considered a career in the poultry industry, the internship program presented a great opportunity to gain experience in industrial maintenance while pursuing his degree. “I eat chicken almost every day, and it has been fascinating to learn how poultry products are produced here,” said James. “I have learned a ton, and there is still so much to learn.”

Wayne-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 definitely recommend the internship program to other students as it is a good learning environment and the people are friendly,” said James. “Real-life application of maintenance techniques and concepts learned in the classroom is invaluable, and I encourage other students to consider such opportunities in the agriculture industry.”

After shadowing the maintenance team at Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Tyler, Texas processing facility for the last several months, James hopes to learn more during the remaining weeks of his internship about the state-of-the-art machinery, automation and robotics utilized by the company to allow employees to perform fewer repetitive tasks, resulting in reduced risk of strain and muscle fatigue. In fiscal year 2022, the company budgeted approximately $120 million in capital expenditures dedicated to maintenance, which is more than the company has invested in a single year for maintenance and equipment upgrades in company history.

“Identifying skilled maintenance employees is key to our company’s successful operation,” said Stacy Webb, manager of training and recruiting at Wayne-Sanderson Farms. “Interns like James help the company ensure we have a pipeline of new talent prepared to step in as our company continues to grow. I encourage each of our interns to learn as much as possible throughout their 10-week internship as that experience will impact their future careers greatly.”