Hands-on learning in a CHS internship
Jackie Li turned his computer science skills into ag solutions through a CHS internship.
By Amy Sitze
Jackie Li didn’t know much about CHS when he applied for a summer internship in November 2021, but he knew he wanted to apply his University of Minnesota computer science degree to a hands-on work environment.
The internship has been even more valuable than he expected, Li says. As part of the company’s digital form management team, he spent the summer updating a seed management website to give farmers more flexibility in the ordering process.
“I knew it would impact people’s lives, so I worked hard to make the site look good and run well,” says Li, who’s now working toward his computer science master’s degree at the University of Minnesota and has extended his CHS internship through the school year.
Like Li, many CHS interns choose to come back — 39% are hired at the company full-time and 19% take on another internship at CHS. This year, more than 170 interns worked across the company in a variety of areas, including IT, finance, marketing, human resources and legal/compliance.
Li says he appreciates his team’s willingness to provide help and guidance, while also trusting him to get his work done. “When you go through the struggle of doing something on the job, you learn so much more than reading about it in a textbook,” he says.
Growing up in a small town in southeastern Minnesota, Li was surrounded by agriculture, but it wasn’t a career path he considered. Now, he says, he sees how many opportunities there are for computer science, machine learning, data analytics and other high-tech skills in agriculture.
His biggest takeaway from the internship will be knowing when to ask for help, Li says. In his academic studies, he usually works alone, sometimes spending six or seven hours on a project only to realize he’s stuck. “At CHS, I learned that you need to know when to stop and ask for help. I will keep that lesson with me forever.”
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