If you have just graduated from high school or from a higher education institution and are considering making a career in agriculture, landing an internship in the sector could be your perfect next move.
You might have a little experience farming or have all the theory covered after studying agriculture, so now it is time to build your practical experience!
Landing an internship in agriculture can provide you with skills and experience to set you up for a successful career going forward. You will require a little bit of experience (or be very persuasive), along with a CV, a motivational letter and a letter of recommendation to land an internship.
Getting into the job market has always been tough and it’s even tougher now for any young person starting their career. But there is hope – with some luck and dedication, you can land an internship and start your career in agriculture!
Landing an internship in agriculture
Take it from someone who has done a lot of internship and job applications over the years – it’s going to take a lot of time and effort. It will also involve a lot of rejections. But don’t give up hope just yet, follow these tips to landing an internship in agriculture and go get your dream job!
1. Search for internships
This is the obvious first step, but it could be trickier than you think. Internship opportunities aren’t always easy to find. And you might not realise it but finding and applying for internships and job opportunities can take quite a bit of time.
At the end of this article there are multiple agriculture internship opportunities listed, but you might have to spend some time searching for other opportunities, and finding internships that are applicable and interesting to you.
A lot of the opportunities will also require specific documents and requirements that differ across applications and you need to spend time to make sure that you have everything that the different applications require, as well as to tailor your CV and motivation letter to every single one.
2. Leverage your current network
The College Raptor lists networking as their first big tip on finding an internship. “Never underestimate the power of networking to not only find internships, but to also have someone put in a good word for you.”
Talk to and ask anybody that you know that has experience in applying to internships, or has experience farming. Ask them for help, recommendation letters, and guidance. Learn from the people around you and realise that you are not alone.
In leveraging you network you might find a good mentor, or get a great recommendation letter from your teacher or someone that you did part-time work for. You could even meet someone that could use your help on their farm or in their garden so that you can gain some experience working for them.
3. Create your CV
Almost everything you will apply to will require a CV. The CV-Library is a website that is regularly updated to let you know what the latest expectations from your CV are. In general, a CV is a document that is one to two pages long and contains the following:
- A short bit of information about who you are (your name, contact information, languages you can speak) at the top;
- Your education (where you went to school or diplomas and degrees that you have obtained);
- Your work experience (any work you have done, skills you have obtained, outlining your experience and your employers);
- References (teachers, lecturers or employers that can vouch for your character and skills).
A CV is everything that your potential employer needs to quickly see what your current skill level is and how easily you would be able to fit into the internship, or what skills you have to offer. This is something that you should update regularly.
Here are some templates of CVs to look at.
Expanding your CV
If your CV is a bit sparse, use your time while looking for internships to do things that add value to your CV. This could be volunteering, doing online courses, joining training programmes, do part time jobs, or anything that could give you skills or knowledge that is relevant to the internship you need or that proves that you work hard and that shows that you stand out above the rest of the applicants.
4. Motivation letter
Your motivation letter is your chance to prove yourself, to prove why you are perfect for the internship that you are applying to and why you think the internship is perfect to you.
Here you can find Novo Resume’s guidelines to exactly what a motivational letter is and also how to structure and write your own motivational letter.
If you have specific skills or experience in any sector that will help you in this internship, or you learned in informal spaces that are difficult to put down in your CV, this is your place to state that. Write down why you want this internship, and why you are a good candidate. Whether you have good social and leadership skills, or are better suited to research and analytics, show them where you can fit into the internship programme.
The letter must be formal, addressed to the person you are sending your application to, be checked for spelling and stick to the outlines they gave you regarding length and information that should be supplied. If none are specified, try to keep it at half a page long – not too short and not too lengthy.
5. Ace your interview
So, your CV and your motivation was impressive, and now you get a call or an email that you have been shortlisted as a candidate for the internship. This is the next hurdle to overcome before you land the internship.
Career Sidekick has many tips for what you can do before, during and after an interview, and there are many websites on the internet dedicated to helping you prepare for your interview.
An interview can be done in person, over the phone or on an online platform like Zoom or Skype. Just as with your CV and motivation letter, this is a formal affair. If the interview is done online or in person, you must look neat and presentable. This is where you show you are responsible, hard-working and willing to learn.
Here is a list of general dos and don’ts from Indeed’s career guide:
- Do not wear hats or sunglasses to your interview
- Do not be late
- Do not swear in your interview
- Use more formal language than you would with your friends and be polite
- Show excitement at being allowed this opportunity to prove yourself
- Show that you are curious and willing to learn
- Answer their questions succinctly
- Be honest
- Put your phone on silent and do not use it during the interview
If the interview is held over Skype, make sure you are in an area where you will not be distracted or be surrounded by loud noises. If your home is too noisy, go to a friend’s house or a quiet coffee shop. Make sure that you can be clearly seen by the interviewer (not in the shade or direct light) and that your microphone and camera is working before you get onto the call.
Here are some video call backgrounds for you to download and use for your online interview.
Agriculture internships to apply to
Here is a list of some of the internship opportunities in South Africa and abroad that you can apply to. Some might have changed or are postponed due to Covid-19, and some overseas opportunities might be limited due to other countries’ Covid-19 restrictions. Therefore, it would be good to read through the specifications of the internships thoroughly before you apply.
Also take note of the deadlines for each internship – do not apply late!
1. Future Farmers Foundation
The idea behind the Future Farmers Foundation was initiated after the first student was sent abroad in 2007. A formal entity is now dedicated to providing platforms from which young men and women who are passionate about agriculture and farming can become successful commercial farm managers or farmers in their own right.
An apprenticeship system has been put in place to accommodate school leavers who are unable to attend universities. In all cases, these students selected must be passionate about farming and have an excellent work ethic and sense of responsibility.
To start them off, they are placed on farms where they gain experience, starting from the bottom and learning a large variety of skills. After a year or two of practical experience the apprentices who excel in their work can be selected to do a year’s internship overseas via grant funding provided by the Future Farmers Foundation.
Find out more about the organisation here.
2. Department of agriculture, land reform and rural development internships
The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development presents exciting opportunities for unemployed graduates between the ages of 18 and 35 through its experiential training and internship programme.
Successful applicants will be appointed as interns for 24 months and will undergo on-the-job development training in technical, professional, public service, business and life skills. These skills are relevant and crucial for them to enter the formal job market. If successful, you will earn a monthly stipend of R6 083,70, depending on your qualifications.
Get more info here: Apply now for 250 internships in agriculture
3. Agricultural Research Council (ARC) internships
The ARC Internship Programme offers new graduates 12 months of working experience in a research and development, technology transfer, support and commercial environment. The internship are offered by ARC in collaboration with AgriSeta, Saasta, DST, NRF and DAFF.
Internships are offered throughout the ARC, across the spectrum in various fields of expertise. The main objective of the internship programme is to afford new graduates or young people studying towards achieving qualification an opportunity to apply their knowledge and develop skills needed in the market through exposure in their relevant fields and under the guidance of more experienced professionals.
Internship opportunities are advertised throughout the year. Find the contact details for their different branches here.
4. SAB Agriculture Internship Programme 2021
South African Breweries is calling on suitable graduates interested in joining its Agriculture Internship for 2021. Before submitting an application, be sure to check the minimum qualification requirements of the programme.
The SAB Agriculture Internship is a comprehensive training programme that will provide the successful candidate insight into the various aspects of agricultural development in the SAB environment.
For enquiries, get in touch with South African Breweries by filling out this contact form.
Click the link to view a PDF copy of the South African Breweries Agricultural Internship Programme 2021 advert.
5. AgriSeta learnerships and internships
The AgriSeta internship programme is for students who require practical experience in order to complete a qualification. The duration of the programme is usually twelve (12) months.
A learnership is a vocational education and training programme. It combines theory and practice, culminating in a qualification that is registered with SAQA. A person who successfully completes a learnership will have a qualification that signifies occupational competence and is recognised throughout the country.
The application window period will in future open on 1 August and close on 15 September of each year. Find out more about the different AgriSeta opportunities here, and contact them through their website or contact the relevant persons listed below: