Career Moves: Elon junior finds potential career sustaining the urban population
Anna Baynes '18 turned to the Student Professional Development Center seeking help with a career path, with staff helping her explore work in sustainable agriculture.
Anna Baynes '18 had no direct career path in mind when she sought guidance from the staff in Elon’s Student Professional Development Center.
With their help, the Elon junior applied to several internships through The Washington Center and chose a position at Cultivate the City. Baynes plunged herself into taking an honest look at what a career in urban agriculture would entail and discovered exactly what she was looking for. The environmental, ecological science major from Carrboro, N.C., is expanding her abilities, educating the public and growing her desire to learn more about sustainable agriculture in urban environments.
Baynes is the first person to be featured this year in a series of profiles on the recent experience of students and alumni who work alongside professionals in the Student Professional Development Center to explore career interests, find jobs and internship opportunities, prepare for interviews, improve graduate school application materials and more.
Tell me about the company and your role as an intern.
Cultivate the City, founded by Niraj Ray, is an urban agriculture organization with several locations around Washington, D.C. We have vertical gardens and rooftop gardens at our store, three schools, two additional locations and my favorite, our rooftop garden at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals baseball team! We also have aquaponics, special events, educational programs for children and adults, and we partner with businesses and restaurants. In addition to tending the gardens, I teach gardening classes at an elementary school, help with farmers markets, assist with special events and work with other businesses and restaurants. I also helped build a greenhouse at a senior center.
How did your interest in the internship develop?
Through The Washington Center, I was paired with an internship advisor who sent my resume out to different organizations I was interested in. From there, I was offered interviews with those organizations and was able to pick an internship among multiple offers. Cultivate the City was one of the internships I was very interested in because the organization does so many different things. I do not have a direct career path in mind, so this exposure to a variety of experiences will hopefully help me figure out what I am interested in, and what I’m not. I am very interested in learning about sustainable agriculture and the possibilities of sustainable agriculture in an urban environment. Through Cultivate the City, I get to work on an individualized project, and I’ve chosen to organize the set-up of beehives and develop related educational materials. Working with bees is what sold me on Cultivate the City.
What have you learned from the experience?
Through my internship, I have furthered my skills in research, organization, planning, creativity, adjustment and networking by doing a variety of jobs at a higher level. I have improved in my adaptability and have grown more skilled at thinking and teaching on the spot. I enjoy teaching, coming up with lessons and meeting new people. I am enjoying my internship because I am outside and I am trying different things. Through my internship as well as other volunteering opportunities I have learned about different career opportunities and what kind of personal work atmosphere I prefer.
Who did you work with in the Student Professional Development Center to prepare for your internship, and what help did you receive?
I met with Sara Shechter twice to help me review my resume and my LinkedIn profile. She was amazing and helped me feel much more prepared to meet professionals in my field. I also was able to get business cards, and my professional picture was taken which was extremely useful. Those are resources I constantly use in Washington, D.C.
What recommendations would you share with other students about the Student Professional Development Center?
Use the SPDC! I received a lot of help getting ready for The Washington Center, getting resume and LinkedIn help and getting business cards. I plan to use the SPDC in the future as I prepare to work in my field.
Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?
Debbie Wall has been a huge help signing me up for my internship credits. Pam Brumbaugh also assisted me throughout my entire Washington Center application process. She also signed me up for The Washington Center Gala, which was an unforgettable experience! In addition to meeting amazing people, I got to open that Gala with speech!