Students gain real world experience thanks to L&M internships

lmintThe future of the produce industry will depend largely on new people being introduced to the field, which is why L&M Cos. offers internships based on seasonal needs throughout the L&M farms, warehouses and sales teams.

“Intern programs in fresh produce are great exposure for young people to be a part of a vital industry,” said Lee Anne Oxford, director of marketing for the East Palatka, FL-based company. “As the global population continues to grow and change, the food and agriculture industry plays a critical role in feeding the world. Working in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges is exciting and satisfying, and there are significant opportunities for college graduates to find a career through many areas of the fresh produce industry.”

Intern eligibility requirements vary by position, but L&M seeks energetic students who are committed to the core values that define how the company works and interacts with all people — both internally and externally.

“As we cultivate an incredible future focused on healthy and fresh foods, we are looking for people to join our team with respect, passion, leadership and excellence,” Oxford said. “We have had a program for more than 10 years but the amount of people we hire varies from year to year.”

While the experience varies by position, L&M strives to make internships meaningful to both the student and the company.

“We also have worked with interns to help them complete class assignments or special projects,” Oxford said. “We hope that interns working with L&M gain perspective of how a career in agriculture is dynamic, fast-paced and incredibly rewarding.”

The company has provided a work-learning experience for many during the pandemic when they otherwise would have nothing to do.

For instance, John Mark Williamson, a senior at North Carolina State University studying agricultural business, recently became an intern at the L&M packaging and operations warehouse located in Raleigh, NC.

“I serve as a warehouse and packing intern for the summer, but I hope to continue throughout the school year,” he said. “In all honesty, I had no clue what to expect with this internship. I was hoping it would teach me valuable skills in the business world and it has certainly lived up to that expectation and more. Not only am I learning about the business side of agriculture, I am learning about the hard work and manual labor that it takes just to get a potato from the farm to the display shelf at the local grocery store.”

Daily, his duties can range anywhere from sticking packing labels on boxes to learning how shipping orders are filed in the computer system to learning how to manage multiple teams of employees all at one time.

“I really do not think there is a better way to prepare me for my future because I am getting to see and experience every part of the business whereas many other college students my age have internships where they learn and fulfill one single task every day,” Williamson said. “It may look good on paper, but when it comes down to it, they really do not have the experience to move much further or gain a leadership role.”

The student noted he became intrigued about a career in the produce world during his junior year.

“The need for agriculture is so strong and I recognized that not only is it essential to our economy, but also our survival,” Williamson said. “It’s truly an honor to even play a small role in an industry that is so vital to our planet as a whole. Right now, I am just an intern taking it day by day, but I hope to one day be the CEO and owner of my own ag business within the produce industry.”

L&M has also hired past interns as permanent employees, so students like Williamson may have a future with the company as well.

(Pictured above: John Mark Williamson, a senior at North Carolina State University studying agricultural business, recently became an intern at the L&M packaging and operations warehouse located in Raleigh, NC.)

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