BY AARON NELSEN
TEXAS COTTON GINNERS’ ASSOCIATION
EDITOR’S NOTE: Aaron Nelsen is communications manager for the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association. In this report, he gives an update on TCGA’s internship program that strives to give ag students at Texas A&M and Texas Tech an opportunity to pursue careers in ginning or a related ag industry.
The TCGA internship program looks to create opportunities for program participants, and we need your help. In many ways, the internship program created by TCGA has gone according to plan. The idea for the program was generated through our safety committee back in 2008. Through the program, we have marketed our industry to many highly capable students at Texas A&M University in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department that also houses students majoring in Agricultural Systems Management.
Since the introduction of the program in 2008, TCGA has interviewed 43 candidates for our internship at Texas A&M University. Three students were interviewed at Texas Tech University this past year when we introduced our program there for the first time. Through the Department of Agricultural Economics, we interviewed three highly qualified candidates. We expect to see increased interest in 2014.
Students Seek Ginning Careers
The program is successful because our participants are often interested in beginning a career in the cotton industry after graduation. As the students approach their final semester, they are very interested in pursuing employment in the industry. We will not get to keep all of them, but we would like to give opportunities in the cotton industry to many of them. To maintain a successful internship program, we must strive to provide full-time employment opportunities for them to look at as they approach graduation.
The ideal opportunity would be an assistant management position. The interns gain good exposure through the summer program, but they are probably not ready to be a manager just yet. They need to work a couple of years under a seasoned manager before they are ready.
As the TCGA Annual Meeting and Trade Show approaches and you are planning for 2014, be thinking about the future and the value an assistant manager could bring to your operation.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Do you have a warehouse or farm store or other operations that are stretching your time thin? Many of these interns are simply looking to get a foot in the door, so they will most likely consider any position you can offer.
Altogether, we have now had 12 interns come through the TCGA program. Three of those interns are currently working for cotton gins. We have one who graduated in December and is looking for a job.
Hopefully,we are getting close. Another is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Texas A&M. The program can serve as a pipeline that will continue to trickle out college graduates just a little bit at a time. However, to keep the pipeline from leaking out of the industry, we need your help!
Other Job Opportunities
Allied industry friends, we would like for you to think about this as well. Many participants zone in on becoming gin managers one day, but that certainly does not mean they would not consider other avenues into the industry. We have had a couple of engineers come through our program as well, and they may well be better suited for a design type job.
You can bet all of our interns have spent quality time in the cotton gin, so they should have a good and basic knowledge of gin equipment already! The bottom line is we need to begin to develop a system that will allow these individuals some interviews with prospective employers in the industry.
Let’s complete the circle and provide opportunities for our program participants and keep the pipeline flowing with knowledgeable, young talent!
Contact Aaron Nelsen at the TCGA office in Austin, Texas, at (512) 476-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.