Co-op at Cargill: My Transformational Experience

I worked as a production management engineer for Cargill the past seven months where I helped increase bulk density of soybean meal, automated our meal load-out, and worked on moisture control. I worked with contractors to facilitate change within our process and inspired engagement with my co-workers.

I have found that while I really enjoy engineering and the application aspect that it has, I feel like I would  like to pursue a law degree. However, before this experience I thought I would like to go straight into law school. Now, I would like to work in industry for a couple of years before pursuing a further education.

I didn’t know how much of Cargill’s values aligned with mine, because of this realization, I have committed to continuing my internships and co-ops with them. I have already signed on to work in Dayton, Ohio for Summer 2019. This will help with my professional development as well as my education. These past seven months have already helped expand on my professional development. My boss made a comment about this in my exit interview. It was affirmation that this was a transformational experience.

One of my supervisors, Stefano Schokman, was an integral part to my growth when I was at Cargill. He helped teach me how to work with contractors, refine my problem-solving skills, and help develop me professionally. One of my projects I had early on was fixing a leak we had on one of our buildings. The contractor that I brought in wasn’t completing the job efficiently, and he was trying to up sell me. Stefano stepped in and demonstrated what to do in this scenario. I learned that it is important to know what exactly the contractors are doing and understand the process, as oppose to trusting them blindly.

At Cargill, they encourage their employees to engage in community service. In my seven months at Cargill, I was able to engage in over 50 hours of community service. Since I have been in school, I have struggled to find time to volunteer. When Cargill offered these opportunities, I knew this was the company for me. This has ignited me with the passion and drive to continue to engage in community service even when I am in school. The world is too large to be worried just about yourself.

Lastly, I participated in a Kaizen at my time at Cargill. This is a week-long exercise where we take a part of the process and try to refine it. In this case, it was rail load-out. We brought in the operators to get their input. I learned how important it was to get input from every level of the operation and to get engagement from the people who were preforming the tasks. I feel like this helped my management skills. In addition to management skills, I feel like it helped improve my problem-solving abilities. It is easy to get overwhelmed, but when you break down a process and see every step, you are better at seeing small details that could make a big difference.

My co-op with Cargill initiated a deep shift in me. I was able to find a new drive and motivation in my career path, volunteering, and potential research I could engage in. Going into this co-op I was unsure if I wanted to be an engineer or pursue a law degree after my undergrad. After completing this experience, I realized that I still want to go into law, but I would like to work in industry for a couple of years. I also realized that after returning to school, I would like to volunteer as a tutor for children. I love interacting with kids, and I feel like promoting education and a passion for learning is important.

In addition, the technical improvements this co-op afforded me was researching skills and topics of interest for me. Through my projects, I learned the vast research opportunities there are in Cargill and some of the skills to execute them properly. Overall, I would say I am a more well-rounded person because of this experience.

Dropping off Cargill Oil to Food Pantry