Although universities are a classic alma mater for gaining new knowledge, they mainly provide students with a theoretical base. When attempting to transfer the knowledge learned in undergraduate studies to solving practical problems, however, problems can arise. To bridge this gap, internships can be used to help make up for the lack of practical implementation of competencies during university studies. In addition, internships give the student a better understanding of professional opportunities and future career, help to make valuable acquaintances, and timely identify weaknesses and gaps in knowledge that can be eliminated before graduation. For this reason, an internship at Just Agrotech was chosen as a tool to improve my personal academic level and realize me as a future professional.
The purpose of this document is to summarize and describe the experiences I learned during my external internship at the company. One of the first sections is devoted to a brief description of the company in order to paint a complete picture and provide the reader with sufficient, up-to-date information about the internship location. The paper goes on to discuss key features of this student program, lessons learned, gaps discovered, and issues that need more work. I will detail the responsibilities assigned to me, and the steps management has taken to ensure a smooth, safe, and quality internship program. The final section presents a summary conclusion and gathers recommendations and directions for further academic work that will be needed to improve my skills.
The Essence of Business
One of the most malleable, dynamic, and rapidly changing market industries is the agricultural industry. There are many threats and challenges for businesses operating in this industry, not only from competitors and government reforms, including improved taxation systems but also from crop yields. It is true that the population is growing rapidly, and to meet people’s need for quality, affordable food, the capacity of agribusiness companies needs to increase. Just Agrotech is one such large company of Chinese origin representing clinical support services for cultivated plants (D&B, 2021). More specifically, Just Agrotech is a high-tech company that promotes the concept of healthy crop production and ecological well-being for the crops grown.
One of the company’s main products is Physiotherapy for Crop Health. This solution should be understood as a comprehensive system to care for and restore plants under various external and internal environmental circumstances (JA, 2021). A vital feature of the mechanism is the introduction of specially prepared and selected substances into plants that initiate genetic constructs of immunity building for pest control. It also refers to specially balanced nutrition and plant care in order to increase their yield potential. To put it another way, Just Agrotech sees plants not as a soulless life form that brings food but as a sensitive, dynamic system that, like an animal, needs protection, care, and specially tailored nutrition and treatment plans.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that Just Agrotech is engaged in genetic or cellular engineering in an attempt to improve the quality of the raw materials grown. On the contrary, the company’s tool is green biotechnology, which is known to use natural systems as objects to improve product performance. Just Agrotech practices the same approach, as the company claims they use the expertise of plants that are resistant to extreme conditions, whether it be northern frost or desert drought, to explore mechanisms of resistance, immune defense, and fertility. Understanding how natural plant functioning works under different conditions allows them to adjust crop programs to produce stable crops that meet societal needs.
The internship program took a little over a month and a half and lasted from January 2, 2019, to February 22, 2019. This is quite a long time for an internship, so quite a few theoretical and practical tasks were accomplished during the entire time. To make it easier to summarize, the overall internship should be roughly divided into two phases. The first stage was related directly to organizational activities, which involved working in the office. The second stage of the internship included field trials in the greenhouses of the company. For this reason, the effectiveness of the internship program lies in the brilliant combination of theoretical and practical work. At the conclusion of the entire internship, I have gained sufficient competence both to continue working in the office in the areas studied in the first phase and knowledge and skills that may be useful to me if I continue my greenhouse work in the crop therapy areas.
The Organizational Phase of the Internship
The first two weeks of the program, from January 2 to January 19, were the organizational phase of the internship, carried out in an office setting. Before letting me work directly with the plants, the supervisors had to make sure that I had a good understanding of the structure and essence of the business at Just Agrotech. To do this, every working day of the thirteen during the organizational phase of the internship, I listened to lectures from my mentors, studied the organizational culture, and delved deeper into the company’s goals, missions, and strategies. In a sense, it could be said that the first two weeks of the internship were more focused on my personal responsibility and understanding, as most of the time, I had to learn the fundamental business processes of the company on my own. The most important collective meetings were the introductory briefing and the annual wrap-up meeting summarizing the results of the last annual period. At the introductory briefing, which was held on the first days of my internship, I was given a brief overview of what Just Agrotech does and their current areas of expertise. I was given a basic introduction to my internship and the type of tasks I would be working on. During the water briefing, I was also assigned a personal tutor with whom we discussed the organizational aspects of the program: what time to come, where to get a pass, and what resources I was advised to use. Overall, it was an extremely useful welcoming event, which set the vector for the entire future internship and introduced me more deeply to the professional activities of Just Agrotech.
The second such event was the annual meeting to take stock of the past year. Indeed, at this meeting, I had no opportunity to have a say or participate in the discussion as it was a meeting of primarily high-ranking employees. My job at this meeting was to observe and learn from the experience: I listened to the leaders speak, took notes, and wrote questions, some of which I then asked the supervisor personally. It was a very useful experience for me because not only did I get to see the whole structure from the inside, but I also learned about the records, current issues, and plans for the next reporting period.
Otherwise, the first two weeks were smooth and monotonous. Together with the curator, we studied the history of the company with the help of archive records, corporate documentaries, and old photographs. There I learned that Just Agrotech has existed since 2003, and during my work, I visited about a dozen international exhibitions and conferences. I also learned that the organizational structure of the company is represented by a hierarchical scheme, where at the very top is the board of directors. The company has marketing, analytical, R&D, technical, and administrative departments. My mentor took me to each of these departments and briefly showed me the main tasks that were solved by the local employees. An essential part of the organizational phase of the internship was an introduction to Just Agrotech’s products. I was introduced to the four main areas of therapy, each of which solves a unique problem of crop yield and fertility.
The Experimental Phase of the Internship
The following month, from January 21 to February 22, my internship took place under greenhouse conditions. It was a stage of practical implementation of the lessons learned and application of the acquired information in the field. More specifically, we were involved in observing the greenhouse cultivation of strawberries as an important agricultural resource. The peculiarity of this berry is that in greenhouse conditions, it can be grown almost all year round, regardless of environmental conditions, whether it is temperature or the amount of sunlight. The greenhouse itself was made of glass panels, which did not prevent the passage of sunlight, but also throughout the interior perimeter were installed lamps, allowing strawberries to grow even at night. On the first day of the experimental phase of the internship, while observing the strawberries, I immediately found a bush that looked diseased: dark brown leaves with spots. As the supervisor later informed me, this could have been C. cladosporioides in the initial stages of infestation of the plant. In addition, I also found several bushes with yellowed leaves, which seemed to be a symptom of a lack of fertilizer for a particular shrub. Surprisingly, the neighboring strawberry bushes looked healthy and green, so it is unlikely that this problem was due to infection. Over the next week, I closely monitored these problematic strawberries and applied Just Agrotech products to them to strengthen immunity and balanced nutrition. It was necessary to cut off the rotted leaves and wipe the plant thoroughly with a wet wipe during the entire treatment. In addition, these plants needed a little more water: I carefully and responsibly carried out my tasks and made sure that no new bushes with infestations or yellow leaves appeared. For the first five days, there was no change, and it seemed to me that my activities were ineffective. Then the curator told me not to be discouraged and to continue because the defense mechanisms in the plants have a cumulative effect, and we have to give them some time. As a result of this activity, after about 13 to 15 days of taking care of the bruised plants, they were looking better, and any signs of disease were gone. That is when I realized that the effectiveness of Just Agrotech products is proven and reliable.
Throughout my internship, I learned quite a few rules and principles about working for a large agribusiness company. Among the most important lessons learned is the importance of recognizing the corporate culture in place. Every company has its own organizational foundation from which unique missions, visions, goals, and strategies flow. As an employee, it is essential for me to adjust and adapt in order to contribute to the smooth running of the company. In addition, I have learned how important it is to have a mentor as an experienced employee who can address initial questions and set a general course for professional development. I also learned how to use Just Agrotech products in a greenhouse environment.
In conclusion, the internship I did at Just Agrotech was an extremely rewarding, productive time for me. During the month and a half, I was able to learn organizational and practical skills, realized the importance of teamwork and the importance of a supervisor for a newcomer to the company. The internship was a great addition to my studies at the university, as I used critical researcher skills I had learned in the previous semesters: searching for information, processing data, reading sources. As an overall result, the entire internship program was a smart, sound decision that allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills beyond the university but in my professional specialization. It strengthened me as a future professional and improved my portfolio. I am sure that I will have more internships ahead of me. I will definitely use the experience I gained in this company to adapt more quickly to the work process and to perform the tasks assigned responsibly. The continuity and lack of visible problems that I had in this internship should be my guiding principles for all other student programs and future careers.
D&B. (2021). Guangdong Just Agrotech Co., Ltd. Dun & Bradstreet. Web.
JA. (2021). Crop health therapy. Just Agrotech. Web.