This past summer I had a remarkable opportunity of working as an Animal Caregiver in a farrowing barn with The Maschhoffs in New Salem, Illinois, where there were 3,600 head of sows’. The Maschhoffs, is a family owned pig production company that is committed to offering the best animal care, environment, safely and community impact. Their priorities are simple: People, Pigs, Passion. Their core values are what drove me to want to work for them, where I gained knowledge of not only about pigs but where I found me. I grew up with a beef cattle background and had no experience and little knowledge of swine so I will admit that I was nervous for my first day. However, my first day was just the beginning of my new chapter.
This summer I learned more than I thought I ever would. From learning about what to look for in swine for illness, lameness or any general health issue and being able to treat them for their condition. I knew how much of a dose and what antibiotic I would give them, which every day was something new which was the best part about my internship. Besides being able to identify what to look for in animals, I also got the opportunity to breed sows and gilts and saw the importance of boar exposure. The best part of breeding sows and gilts was to experience the difference between how sows and gilts breed. Gilts take a lot more time versus sows take no time at all and being able to experience that hands-on is something that I couldn’t actually learn just from a text book. I was also able to get more knowledge and activity around our boar also, which I now know what people mean when they say boars truly do smell horrid. The things that I learned this summer was truly a once in lifetime opportunity that helped me grow so much as a person, and learning that being around swine may be a potential career opportunity for me in the future.
Mostly importantly this summer I learned the importance of being present in my life, that everything is temporary so you should make the most of out of everything and the importance of networking and not being afraid to ask questions and get out of your comfort zone. I gained so many friendships, connections and most importantly I was able to develop and have personal growth this summer. So, my best advice to anyone looking for an internship is this: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and take your life day by day.