Washington Native Goes from Dairy Farm to Dairy Farmers of America
Natalie Doelman (Agribusiness: Food Marketing; Elma, WA) connected with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) while attending Purdue’s College of Ag Career fair. After the growth she experienced her first summer interning with DFA, Natalie knew she wanted to do it again this summer! “I gained industry experience and earned credit while solidifying my career intentions.”
This summer, Natalie was a Fluid Milk Marketing Intern at the DFA headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. Here she took production, utilization, and consumption data and created consumable deliverables and offered market insights. Being “knee deep in spreadsheets and market reports all summer,” she still was able to spend time working on her own projects. Natalie states, “DFA also has done a tremendous job at allowing flexibility, so I have the freedom to shadow and learn about a variety of departments within the organization.”
When asked what her favorite memory from her time at Dairy Farmers of America was, she spoke highly of her 20 fellow interns saying, “My favorite memory so far is working with other interns to problem solve our project obstacles, pulling together from a great variety of backgrounds and skillsets.” She also mentioned that while there was a steep learning curve to being an intern, everyone at DFA still wanted her to succeed and enjoy what she was doing. She shared, “The confidence my managers and coworkers have in me makes me surer of my own abilities; I appreciate and have a tremendous amount of respect for the people I get to work with every day.”
Looking towards the future, this experience solidified Natalie’s career interest in dairy markets and policy and made her even more excited for opportunities in this field. Natalie said she absolutely sees herself seeking an internship again or job in a business like DFA. “The co-op structure provides a sense of fulfillment as everything we do brings value to farmer owners and the collaborative work environment makes me excited to tackle projects.”
Natalie also offered advice for students who are going to consider internships in the future, noting, “I would recommend taking an internship away from home. Being in a new place fosters tremendous growth and has been a highlight of my summer.” Natalie was pushed out of her comfort zone through this with a group of interns she otherwise would never have met, which compounded the impact of her summer with DFA.