3 Things I Learned While Interning at Hormel Foods

By: Tori

“Nothing can substitute experience; Mainly because experience is invaluable, it is what you make it.” – Anonymous

This past summer I worked as a corporate communications intern with Hormel Foods. Based in Austin, MN, also known as Spamtown, USA, aka my hometown. Hormel Foods has been a part of my life since I was brought into existence. This Fortune 500 company is known as one of the most trusted and highly respected companies in the food and meat product industry.

After working for Hormel Foods, I can now say that I have: created and published content for a Fortune 500 company’s website, constructed daily news briefings for over 600 employees, dressed as Spammy for the Spam Museum grand opening, designed and implemented a unique and proactive career pamphlet for the company’s national recruiting team, and engaged in cross-functional efforts to execute Hormel’s 125th Anniversary celebration.


While these specific tasks allowed me to expand upon my skills and stretched me as an employee, there are three major takeaways I would like to share from my summer internship:

#1. You need to be “in the know.”
Communications is an art. As a communication department you are the first place people go; whether it be other departments, the press, Hormel executives, etc. How will you respond to product recalls, press releases, natural disasters? How will you get your message across? It is vital YOU understand the company you are working for and what is going on in the industry overall. It is important YOU have the knowledge necessary to craft emails, corporate intranet content, and daily news briefings that reflect what your company stands for.


#2. People are Power. And so is your Culture.

Inspired people. Inspired food. Inspired intern.

After spending 10 weeks with Hormel Foods, I understand why they continue to be so successful; their culture. They are an innovative, promote from within, company who genuinely cares about their people and consumers. When you think about a corporate environment you envision: suits, ties, blazers, coffee, computers, and serious conversation. But after working at Hormel Foods I envision: professional, friendly, open, respectful, caring, coffee, coffee, and more coffee (I don’t think I’ve had so much coffee before). The connections you gain from collaborating with employees and creating a culture that builds others up, here in the United States and across the world, are truly amazing.

Below is a video on the culture of Hormel Foods.

#3.  Take advantage of what they offer.
Although I am a Human Resource Management major, I gained a great deal of insight by interning in communications. Often students don’t take advantage of the opportunities offered because they are too scared to ask or feel they will be a burden. Asking for more opportunities, serious projects, and a diverse workload will help you stand out as an intern. A few ways I took advantage of Hormel Foods and what they have to offer was by: shadowing Consumer Engagement, visiting Studio H, going on a plant tour, meeting with managers for coffee, creating plant video scripts, attending department meetings, and sharing a cubicle wall with recruiters.

These are simple, yet immensely valuable opportunities that are so often overlooked. By taking advantage of all Hormel Foods had to offer, I learned just how passionate I am about helping other people reach their goals. This was a direct result from sitting near recruiters and hearing them give interviews over the phone all summer.

I was able to network, build relationships, stretch my knowledge, and visualize my future with this company by taking these steps and spending my summer celebrating among them.

Read Tori’s other posts

Not a Typical Internship

By: Kirsi

The word “Internship” may invoke an image of a flustered undergrad fetching coffee and copying documents with the goal to endure an unpaid summer stint. In reality internships and other career building opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and are often paid. Continue reading for enlightenment about alternative career building opportunities.


Full Year Internships
In my previous post I compared internships and Co-Ops describing an internship as a single semester opportunity. However, there are, in fact, year-long renewable internships out there! For example, some private companies contracted by NASA Johnson work all year long. These year-round interns work full time in the summer, and part time during school. Some full year interns have the same benefits as Co-ops, but with an opportunity work part time during school. On the government side, year long opportunities are currently being offered by NASA for 2017. October is not to early to apply for full year position at your desired company or organization.


Built by UMD Senior in Electrical Engineering.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is a unique way to get a taste of academia, conduct research in a team and  work on projects related to your major. Often these opportunities are funded so you will have money for materials and a paycheck. University of Minnesota Duluth has a collection of unique UROP opportunities and world class research projects. One effort in particular that stands out is Dr. Desineni Subbaram Naidu and his research team’s robotic prosthetic arm. Undergraduates, master students, and PhD candidates have all worked on the prosthetic arm team, there is even a TEDx Minneapolis talk about the research. Each semester there is a window open when students can propose an idea for a UROP for funding or join an existing UROP group.


Photo Source: Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Job Shadowing
If you are not yet prepared for an internship or not certain about your major, job shadowing can be a good tool for building confidence in you career choices. Asking a desired organization about job shadowing is a low risk way to quickly find out if you are interested in a discipline of work. Before confirming I wanted to study computer science I job shadowed at Park Nicollet for a day to see how information technology applied to the healthcare realm. I thought the challenges of personal information security, big data, and merging of databases was interesting and kept my major. When approaching an organization about job shadowing they may suggest you take a tour of the company building instead which may expose you to jobs of many disciplines. While job shadowing and touring are not paid they may open doors to paid career opportunities.

Do not fret if you do not fit the summer internship mold, there are plenty of alternative career building opportunities that fit with your lifestyle and life goals.

Of Possible Interest

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Peering Into the Crystal Ball, Part 1

By: David

As I finish up my final year of undergrad, there are many things that I wish I could have done differently. Though I do not regret a thing, if I had the opportunity to redo parts of my undergraduate experience, I definitely would.  So come hither thy crystal ball and peek into my moments (excuse my random instant of Old English). Anyways, with each experience that I relive I will also follow up with ideas on moving forward so that these instances don’t become long-lived regrets (hopefully!). Also, in shortening the post I have decided to split this topic into two different posts. Enjoy!


Like many students that I’ve interacted with or know, the biggest thing I wish I could redo are my academics. Rewinding back to my younger years I had an abundance of fun indeed, but now as a senior looking into graduate school I wish would have at least tried a little harder. Granted, my academics aren’t in the hole, but of course, they can always be better. Whether it’s studying a little harder for an exam, putting the extra work for extra credit, taking less naps in between papers, or skipping out on hangouts with friends to work on an assignment, I do look back and wish I would have made productive decisions to benefit me now.

Despite not being happy with my grades in my early years of undergrad, I still have some time to make up for it. Moving forward, I am committed as ever to bring my GPA up for grad school purposes. Two semesters does not seem like a lot of room, but in the end it’s better to finish with a bang and leave UMD satisfied. And that’s what I intend to do through precise prioritizing and time management (which have never been my greatest strengths). In the long-run, this will be something that I will come back to should I restart on my academics (graduate school).

Declaring A Different Major  

Reflecting back, if I could declare my second major I would do so differently. Currently, I am a double major in Communication and Psychology, but if I could, I would have declared in Communication and Sociology. By all means, I appreciate and still love my Psych degree, but through my experiences being a student leader I have grown a lot in being politically and socially aware of topics and issues facing our society. It wasn’t until my senior year where I became invested in topics related to social justice, equality, and equity. I believe I would have gotten to the point where I wanted to be mentally and intellectually (which is now) a lot sooner had I taken more courses related to race, society, and identity.

Moving forward, though I didn’t get the chance to educate myself more on social topics and issues in the classroom I know there will always be opportunities to do this: reading books, attending conferences/workshops, undergo training, etc. Ultimately, whatever career path I take I would like to incorporate these aspects into my career.


This sums up the first half of my insights and reflection of what I wish I could have done differently throughout my undergrad. Come back and check out the second half of my “crystal ball” moments soon in the future. Until then, stay warm, stay safe, and stay gold!

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To Disclose or Not to Disclose Your Disability? That is the Question.

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Author)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the year-long collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

One very important thing that comes up for many job hunters with disabilities is disclosure. Should you tell a prospective employer about your disability? If so, why? when? and how? While every situation is usually quite different, there are a few key things to most likely consider when making this important decision.

Some people with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to do a particular job or duty. According to the US Department of Justice, a reasonable accommodation is a “modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.” Some examples of reasonable accommodations can include things like making the facility accessible, modifying work schedules, assistive technology available, and being able to work from home, just to name a few.


Something to keep in mind is that if your employer is unaware of your disability, they have no legal obligation to provide you with a reasonable accommodation. If you need an accommodation to perform a job, you will need to disclose your disability at some point. One of the main reasons behind WHY disclosure in the workplace is important, is so that the employer is able to provide you with accommodations so you are able to perform the essential functions of the job.

Disclosing any sort of more personal information can be scary. We totally get that. Some things that could be helpful and possibly make you feel more comfortable disclosing your disability, especially if you are new to this subject, would be to research the company’s history with disability. Some questions to ask yourself are :

  • Have they hired people with disabilities before?
  • Does their website or hiring materials include a diversity statement?
  • Has the company been involved with any disability-related organizations, such as sponsoring an event, donating to a fund raiser, or posting openings to disability-focused job sites?
  • How is the company environment; more flexible, open, etc.?

Another important question that pops up is WHEN to disclose your disability. Do you disclose before the interview, during the process, or after you are hired?! Guess what…..that is TOTALLY up to you! You will want to make sure you select a confidential place in which you feel comfortable and allow the potential employer time to ask questions if needed. Always, always focus on your strengths and things you do amazingly; do not dwell on any limitations your disability might pose. The timing of disclosure might depend on the requirements of the interview process, the barriers presented by your disability, or the essential duties of the job.

Last but not least, HOW to disclose your disability to potential or current employers. Being prepared is KEY for disclosing your disability. It may even be helpful to practice your disclosure discussion with someone you feel comfortable with. You could even put together a little script to help you out and practice that. Remember to keep it positive and strength focused and you will shiiiiine. You got this!!!

If you want more information on this topic or even some practice disclosing, do not hesitate to reach out to me by email at alstainb@d.umn.edu – we can even meet in person if you like! I would be more than happy to help!

However you disclose, it is helpful to be familiar with your rights under state and federal disability laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act. See the links below for more information.

Sources and more information:

Read other posts/resources about Disabilities in the Workplace

Photo Source: Unsplash | Ashley Knedler

How & Why to Write a Letter of Inquiry

By: Lexi

Looking for internships can be very stressful, especially if you are required to have one to graduate. There are many resources to help you find an internship at the Career & Internship Services office. If you have found a company or an organization that you are interested in and would like to work with, but you see that they do not have opportunities or postings for an internship, then it never hurts to send them a letter of inquiry. The worse thing they can say is no!


A letter of inquiry is a way for you to address a company that might not be advertising their job postings, but to possibly get your resume in front of a hiring manager for them to consider you. It could also lead to other doors opening, such as if that particular company is not hiring, but they might know and refer you to another one that is. It could also help you to just to get your name out there and network. Either way, here are some important tips to consider when writing your letter:

  • Say hello and address a specific person. If you cannot, use gender neutral name like Dear Human Resources Manager or Dear Hiring Manager.
  • If sending this letter in an email, choose your subject line wisely. This can catch their attention, but keep it professional.
  • Write your message like it will be read by the CEO of the company. You never know who will read your letter, so keep it classy.
  • Please proofread before sending it off! No one wants to read or even hire a person who does not know simple spelling or grammar.

Along with these guidelines that you ought to follow, you should also include these documents with your letter:

  • Resume (Come have it polished up by our peer educators)
  • Cover Letter, most of the time the cover letter is combined with the actual letter of inquiry.

Within the Cover Letter include:

  • Why you are interested in this company
  • Why you would like to work for them
  • What your qualifications are
  • Express your appreciation to them for taking the time to consider you
  • And your contact information so they can get back in touch with you!

Hopefully with these helpful tips you can find an internship that will help you develop your professional career and open doors to new opportunities. You can also visit one of our career counselors in our office or GoldPASS for help. Good luck in your internship search!

Read Lexi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

Study Abroad Takeaways

By: Cassie

Hi everyone! So if you’ve read my posts before you know that this past summer I decided to study abroad in Ireland. The trip I went on was focused on innovation and how businesses differ between the US and Ireland. Through this trip I got to see amazing things, meet amazing people (like the CEO of the largest hospital in Ireland), and I also learned a lot of things about myself along the way. Going on this trip was a really eye opening and great experience for me. Today I’m going to sum up some takeaways in a few points.


It was challenging
The general consensus on studying abroad is that you will take easy classes and just be able to have fun. Well, you are definitely able to have lots of fun, BUT you cannot forget the importance of doing your work. My class was challenging and really pushed me to think outside of what I normally would do. This ultimately made it a more rewarding trip for me and I got a lot of education out of it. It was not only academically challenging- it was challenging just being in another country! Figuring out how to get around, the currency, and even deciding what to eat was all a new and different experience that made me push myself.


I made a lot of friends and connections
I met a lot of new people by going on this trip and made a lot of friends that I know will last a lifetime. We visited several companies and we met a lot of people who were doing influential and innovative things. We met heads of companies and we got to see how Irish business works. I also made good connections with people like Tony McNamara, who is the CEO of Cork University Hospital. This hospital is coincidentally the largest hospital and most innovative hospital in Ireland. The meeting was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever had to do, and it was also one of the most rewarding. By making these connections I now have a larger network and I have been introduced to so many more opportunities, which has been really great.

I saw amazing things
Every day of my trip was jam packed with a ton of things to see. We went all over the country and saw historical landmarks, scenery, and even contemporary cities. It was incredible to take in all the new sights, scenes, and surroundings that Ireland had to offer.


I learned so much
By going on this trip, I didn’t just learn about Ireland. I learned about the people around me, whether they were business professionals or my peers. I learned that I could be a part of the business place. I learned that I am capable of so many things and all I have to do is try them. Overall, studying abroad was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone because of all the great things you can get out of it!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Cassie’s other posts

Photos by: Cassie

Keeping Up Your Motivation

By: Willow

It’s that time of year again, Halloween. Personally I love Halloween, but a big downside to this time of year is the crazy-ness of school. As much as I all like to think I’m a perfect student that never needs help this time of year, I always find myself getting overwhelmed and spreading myself too thin. So, I wrote this to help you remember how to keep your head up this time of year.

Now I know you already know these things, but it’s always nice to have a reminder before you become buried in tears and stress.

Ask for help. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Usually, professors are good people who want to you do well, if you tell them you’re overwhelmed – and not just looking for an easy way out, they almost always will work with you to find a solution.

Do your reading. I know it is so easy to skip it, usually no one will notice and you’ll survive, but when you don’t read for class you end up spending 4 days before your exam trying to figure out what you missed. And it’s horrible, so try to stay on top of it before you crumble under it.

Don’t work more than you can handle. It’s ok to ask for less work during a super crazy week at school. If you know you’re going to have 2 papers due and 3 exams in the same week, there is no shame in asking your boss for less hours. I know it can be hard when you have to pay rent and eat, but try to remember your main goal right now is to get an education.

It’s ok to say no. Did someone ask you to cover their shift at work? Or watch a scary movie on a weeknight? I know you want to say yes, but sometimes it’s far better in the long run to say no.

Go see a doctor if you need one. If you go to UMD, you have health care professionals available to you right on campus, it’s awesome. And you’re paying for them in your tuition so you might as well use them. Don’t forget about counseling, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Life is hard. Don’t make it worse than it has to be. Happy Halloween Bulldogs.

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