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A little late as this year’s alfalfa

Almost everyone around me seemed to have a rebirth after completing their last final. Summer comes as people are enthusiastically striving to materialize their ambition. The summer should be used wisely. You can either experience sunshine, beach, and beer; or trade it for intellectual challenges in a meaningful internship–one of the most important differences is that in the former, you will have to pay the bill; and in the latter, you become more intelligent.

My name is Chang Lian, a transfer student originally from China Agricultural University. I am a rising senior at Cornell, majoring in Agricultural Sciences. After reading a couple of articles from others, I think it would be a better start by sharing how I got my internship, and my suggestions for getting a position. Later, I will share fun things about my experiences in the last month, like how a “once-city-boy” got scared to death by a herd of cows!

Internships do not come along without effort. You get what you sow. Though there are many methods of obtaining a position from the Internet, word of mouth still proves effective.

I got my internship by asking our dearest major director, Toni, if he knew anyone doing soil science research who was recruiting undergrads. This is how I started working with the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program, with Assoc. Prof. Quirine Ketterings. I simply sent her a couple of emails confirming an appointment, and went to her office. It was as simple as visiting a friend. I believe that such academic internships, especially on campus, are more easily accessible than commercial ones, which can require rather strict recruiting procedures, and sometimes a face to face interview (for students, skipping classes for an interview might be a considerable cost). For those of you interested in working in academia, your instructor and major director are a great starting point.

This post came a little late, as it is now the first cut for alfalfa. My research tasks involve not only lab and greenhouse work, but field work as well. We have collaborated with two commercial farms for the research of potassium management for alfalfa. Our harvest schedule depends on the farmers. One to three days before their large scale harvest, we visit our research plot and harvest.

I hope that if you’re an incoming Cornell student this fall, you can enjoy our stories in the summer internship blog and, if possible, please comment!

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