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An Internship Sweet as Sugar

Austin Lee standing in Sugar FieldUF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student Austin Lee is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in agricultural operations management (AOM). Lee landed a summer internship with U.S. Sugar to gain experience and explore employment opportunities before his expected graduation in fall 2022.

U.S. Sugar’s headquarters are located in Clewiston, Florida, on the south side of Florida’s iconic Lake Okeechobee. U.S. Sugar is a fully integrated sugarcane operation responsible for producing almost 800,000 tons of refined sugar each year. During his internship, Lee has adopted many responsibilities including managing fertilizer applications, inputting accurate data into the computer system, scouting for herbicide applications and even hopping on some equipment to complete fieldwork. His roles and responsibilities often change each day based on the needs of the company.

As a Florida native born and raised in the area, Lee was always interested in the possibility of working at U.S. Sugar. While at UF, this internship was the perfect opportunity to explore what a career at U.S. Sugar could look like. After discovering this internship through his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, Lee knew he was interested in this experience.

“Much of the coursework that I have completed in AOM has related directly to what I see and do on a daily basis on the farm. I feel like that just goes to show how well the degrees offered by CALS prepare students for a career in agriculture.” – Austin Lee

His favorite part about the internship has been managing some of the fertilizer applications. With it being such a crucial part of the crop’s growth, he was happy to see his mentors trusted him with this critical role. Lee said the different connections he has made within the company have made the internship experience both valuable and enjoyable. Throughout his internship, he has learned about the process of growing sugarcane both pre- and post-harvest to grow his knowledge in irrigation practices, variety selection, weed and pest control, and much more pertaining to the crop.

The agricultural operations management (AOM) program provides students with core fundamental knowledge and critical thinking skills as well as specialized tracks providing career path options. The program teaches both management and technical skills and provides students with the ability to apply this knowledge to solve problems common in family-owned businesses and large municipal entities. For more information about career planning and assistance preparing to secure an internship of your own, visit the CALS Career Planning webpage.

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