Learning outside of the classroom

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 6:00pm
Brenda Jacob with 2017 visiting U of M students

Brenda Jacob with 2017 visiting U of M students

Heidi Riese and Brandi DeVries with W.I.L.L. participants

Heidi Riese and Brandi DeVries with W.I.L.L. participants

Land O’Lakes mentors share wisdom about building successful careers

Outside the classroom: College students quickly discover that their education isn’t just about book smarts. Another key to career preparation happens outside of the classroom, whether it’s via mentoring, an internship, or career-readiness events.

Land O’Lakes plays a big part in providing such experiential learning for U of M students. Two programs annually match students with mentors, who share their professional experience and career advice.

College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS): CFANS students frequently get paired with Land O’Lakes mentors. Labeling manager Brenda Jacob is a former president of CFANS’ alumni society. About six years ago, she suggested that Land O’Lakes give mentees an up-close look at food careers.

Annually and at this year’s event on April 13, eight to 16 students tour the company’s test kitchen and research and development facilities, learn about Land O’Lakes and its products, and engage in a panel discussion with mentors.

Jacob wanted to get involved to pay back mentors who helped her. Plus, “we recognize that graduates from the University are top-notch,” she says. “It’s a way for us to say, ‘Please consider Land O’Lakes when considering a career.’”

Women Invested in Leadership and Learning (WILL): Land O’Lakes employees also mentor student athletes through the WILL program. Currently, 120 female student athletes meet with mentors from different companies about career preparation, networking, accountability, and leadership, says Anissa Lightner, director of career services and relations for intercollegiate athletics.

“This helps student athletes prepare for life after athletics,” Lightner says. “If we can bring these opportunities to campus, it helps them make the connections they need after school is over.”

Land O’Lakes community relations manager Brandi DeVries and Heidi Riese from college relations  find it valuable to serve as WILL  mentors. Having been a student athlete, DeVries enjoys relaying her experience with transitioning from college to career.

“I try to pass along that wisdom and remind these young women that the work ethic they have dedicated to sports can easily be translated to their careers,” DeVries says.

Riese strives to provide out-of-classroom teaching about career navigation. She adds, “I love to share the importance of working hard, connecting, and truly understanding your co-workers, and that your career path is a continued journey.”

Photos:  Gopher Athletics; Brenda Jacob-Land O’Lakes