By Miranda Daily
On June 3rd, an unfamiliar scene unfolded in the lobby of the OK Foods Corporate office: twelve college students from across the state of Arkansas were exchanging names and majors, patiently waiting to start the first day of their summer internship.
During their 10-week paid internship, these interns will work in Live Production, Agribusiness/Processing Plant Operations, Research & Development, Sales/Marketing, Supply Chain, Accounting, and Management Information Systems.
OK Foods looks for interns who are ambitious, take initiative, and desire a full-time career with the company after graduation. The summer interns said they sought after an internship that would give them real-world experience close to home.
“This program is a great opportunity for professional development. I witness our interns develop both professionally and personally,” Amy Douglas, Human Resource Services Manager, said.
Though no two days are ever the same at OK Foods, each intern has their own daily tasks to perform. Accounting intern, Elizabeth Martinez, works on pay roll, cost accounting and SOX testing. Reed Williams, the Research and Development intern, tests and controls food samples to collect data. Sales intern, Keesler Nye, gathers sales data to create spreadsheets for the sales team.
“I really appreciate that the sales team is like one big family,” Nye said. “And the free coffee is a great bonus too.”
Of the twelve, four interns signed with OK Foods after being chosen by the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce to work for companies across the city. One of the interns selected by the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, Natalie Chilton, is a recent graduate of Southside High School and will attend the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in the fall.
Chilton found the opportunity through school counselors who promoted part-time jobs and internships for graduates.
“This is a really good opportunity for students coming out of high school, you learn what it’s like to work in a professional environment,” Chilton said.
The summer 2019 interns have a strong interest in starting their post-graduate career at OK Foods, in part because of the welcoming company culture they have experienced since they began.
“My department was extremely friendly when I arrived; they invited me to lunch and even had a potluck to celebrate the start of my internship,” Martinez said.
Marketing and Sales interns, Miranda Daily and Keesler Nye, were taken to the Fort Smith and Heavener plants to learn about how chickens are processed. The learning opportunity allowed them to gain insight on how OK Foods products are made, what customers desire, and therefore helped them better understand their roles as interns.
Even if students do not have the exact major or skills that the job description states, OK Foods still urges potential interns to apply for the position. This internship is an opportunity to gain new skills, set goals and excel in different environments.
OK Foods started this program to train young professionals, recruit future employees and provide mentorship. The interns also provide the company with fresh and unique perspectives.
“They are important,” Douglas said.
If these interns are an indication of the future of OK Foods, the company’s future is certainly bright.