How can the Texas Cotton Ginners Association encourage today’s college students to consider a career in ginning? It’s not as easy as you might think, but TCGA has taken some giant steps in the last two years with its highly successful internship program. After TCGA conducted a study of how such a program would be launched and coordinated, the first intern was hired in the summer of 2008.
Students undergo interviews, a demanding application process, and then TCGA communications manager and special projects coordinator Aaron Nelsen makes the final decision on who is chosen.
The interns are matched with gins in the West Texas area during the first part of the summer. They are given the chance to observe all facets of a gin operation during that time, including the marketing of cotton, financial decisions, gin safety and management of employees.
During the second part of the summer, they move to South Texas where they work for another five to six weeks in a gin actually processing cotton.
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The 2009 interns were Drew Mahaffey and Steve Craig, both students at Texas A&M University. They will receive their undergraduate degrees in May.
“This is a real partnership between TCGA, the gins and Texas A&M, and the reaction has been very good so far,” says Nelsen. “We are doing our best to give these students some valuable exposure in how a gin operates.
“The feedback we have received is that our two young interns were fantastic workers, energetic, and both of them are extremely interested in pursuing some kind of career in the ginning industry.”
Craig worked at the Slaton Co-op Gin during the early part of last summer. Meanwhile, Mahaffey was employed at the Idalou Co-op Gin during his time in West Texas. Both students spent the latter part of the summer working for manager Jimmy Roppolo at
the Farmers Co-op Gin in El Campo.
Nelsen says both interns were pleased by the entire summer experience, and it “definitely exceeded their expectations.”
To make the internship experience even more meaningful, TCGA will pay their travel expenses to Lubbock so that they can attend the organization’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show on April 8-9.
“Being able to go to the meeting in Lubbock will be a real bonus for them,” says Nelsen. “You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to make good contacts in the industry.”
It’s a win-win situation for all parties. The program offers young students a chance to pursue a ginning career. Conversely, it gives TCGA a chance to find the next generation of ginners in Texas.
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the TCGA internship program, contact Aaron Nelsen at email@example.com or call (512) 476-8388.