Animal sciences senior Dakota Teems spent the summer of 2021 working around the cluck, gaining real-world experience in the poultry industry while interning with Pilgrim’s, a subsidiary of JBS Foods located in Live Oak, Florida. Teems connected with Pilgrim’s at the 2021 UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Career Expo last February.
As a Pilgrim’s intern, Teems worked on a specific project that required her to collect data on chicken from specific lines using a new automatic innovation called Food-mate. She made observations in the plant and noted where problems arose, then she used problem-solving skills to improve the process. Teems used the data to create pivot charts and Pareto graphs that she then used in a presentation. On a day-to-day basis, she also made herself available to assist with tasks her mentor needed to accomplish that day and provided feedback on ways to improve the internship program.
Teem’s animal sciences major helped her prepare for the internship by providing her background knowledge of the live poultry aspect of Pilgrim’s operation. She said her previous knowledge of bird anatomy allowed her to focus on other portions of the poultry industry she had not yet been exposed to. Although Teems wishes she could have had a class specifically on poultry production, she felt well prepared for hands-on industry experience.
“There is a lot that goes into the poultry industry and with the limited time that I had, I needed to be able to absorb as much as I could.” – Dakota Teems
Her favorite thing about the internship was the networking aspect. Carrying out multiple tasks allowed her to meet many different people within the company. Everyone she worked with was very welcoming and guided her understanding of the industry while helping her learn about career options that would best suit her interests. This hands-on experience allowed her to learn about the poultry industry including line efficiency, downgrades and packing rate while gaining an understanding of the value in being open-minded to opportunities, even if they weren’t something she thought she would enjoy. Teems leaves the internship reminded of the importance of making and maintaining relationships with people to develop a network that can support her in the future.
The Department of Animal Sciences faculty integrates the most modern technologies available with personal expertise and attention to the needs of students and our industry to create new solutions to tomorrow’s problems. To discover internship opportunities with Pilgrim’s, visit their website. For more information about career planning and assistance preparing to secure an internship of your own, visit the CALS Career Planning webpage.