From a study abroad in Cape Town to a marketing internship with John Deere: Parker shares his summer of professional growth
In the Summer of 2023, AGEC sophomore, Drew Parker spanned the globe going from Indiana to Cape Town South Africa, then to Moline Illinois, and finally to Washington D.C.
Drew kicked off his summer experience with a study abroad to Cape Town, South Africa which focused on Food, Culture, and Sustainability. This was Drew’s first time leaving the country, which he found initially very daunting. “My experience in Cape Town was like no other. It was the most beautiful country I have ever laid my eyes on. I marveled at Table Mountain overlooking the beautiful city of Cape Town.” During his time in Cape Town, Drew was able to immerse himself into the culture by trying local foods and taking a cooking class. He was able to learn more about the History of Cape Town by going to the District Six museum and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years imprisoned. Drew states, “These experiences gave me a deeper understanding of apartheid and those who experienced it.” He was also able to learn about agriculture in South Africa by going to Stellenbosch University, meeting current students in their College of Agriculture, and learning about their research topics. “Even though our campuses being thousands of miles apart. The one common ground we have is our passion for agriculture. Not only was I able to grow academically while studying abroad, but I was also able to personally grow.”
Drew spent the next portion of his summer in Moline Illinois Interning for John Deere on their Combine Front End Equipment Marketing Team. His project was focused on planning and supporting the future Combine launches. He was responsible for creating the structure for the launch and collaborating with his Project Marketing Managers to make sure that the structure held value and the Deliverables made sense. Condensing previous launch deliverables to make the process more efficient and easier. Drew was also able to go out to work with customers and dealers by traveling around Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. He found working for John Deere was a special experience since he had already gained a passion for agriculture from his grandparents’ farm while using Deere equipment. Drew shares, “The days I spent working with my grandpa and Uncle Kent on the farm prepared me to go out to support customers and dealers because I had prior knowledge of the innerworkings of the machines. I also had a work ethic instilled in me by them, that if I did not know I would figure it out.” Drew says his experience with John Deere was a special one, and he is happy to say that he will be returning in the Summer of ’24 as a Customer Product Support Intern in Waterloo Iowa.
Drew’s summer culminated in Washington D.C. with his duties for organizing the National MANNRS business meeting. After planning the MANNRS regional cluster meetings, he networked with people all over the Agricultural industry at the Farm Bureau Social. This experience helped him understand the vast opportunities within agriculture. Drew also had the unique experience of meeting Carlton Bridgeforth, a generational black farmer. Mr. Bridgeforth offered a wealth of knowledge and advice about agriculture. Outside of networking and meetings, Drew still found time to squeeze in a visit to the Memorial Mall, which he called breathtaking.
As his summer wrapped up, Drew reflected on all three experiences saying that by putting himself in positions outside of his comfort zone, he had learned to get comfortable. "It was a time of great growth for me. I am excited to see what next summer brings me.”