#NDSUintern Spotlight: Gagandeep Brar

Major: Biological Sciences

Company: Corteva Agriscience

Internship Title: Crop Protection Discovery and Development Field Science Intern

Location of Internship: North Dakota and Minnesota

Why did you choose the company that you work for?

Company Culture: The positive company culture played a significant role in influencing my decision to work for Corteva. Through networking, I discovered factors such as work-life balance, diversity and inclusion efforts, and opportunities for growth that profoundly impact individuals currently working at Corteva and those considering it in the future.

Learning Opportunities: This internship provided valuable learning experiences and opportunities to develop new skills. As someone starting their early career, I felt highly motivated for future growth, thanks to the supportive people around me.

Impactful Work: Working in an applied field at Corteva, I genuinely believe I’m contributing to meaningful and impactful work. Interacting with farmers and growers during my internship, I sensed the positive impact of my efforts, whether through sharing scientific knowledge or addressing real-world challenges they face daily. Coming from a farming background, I’m more motivated than ever to continue such contributions in future roles with Corteva.

Flexibility: Conversations with various people revealed that once you’re part of Corteva, your career path can be flexible, allowing you to pursue your passions and interests. If you discover a new interest or desire to work in a different area of the company, transitioning may be possible. My experience, transitioning from a lab role during my Ph.D. to a field science internship, illustrates that with hard work and a desire to contribute to the company, you can enjoy career path flexibility with a range of roles that leverage your skills and knowledge.

Networking and Professional Growth: One of the highlights of my experience was building strong professional connections and networks during my internship. I firmly believe that being part of such a supportive network will open doors to new opportunities in the future and contribute to my growth and development in a full-time role.

What were some of the requirements for your internship?

Corteva Agriscience offers internships across various educational levels, including undergraduate, master’s, and PhD students. The specific requirements for Corteva Agriscience internships may vary depending on the internship program and the roles they are looking to fill. Undergraduate interns at Corteva Agriscience are involved in various aspects of agriculture and agribusiness, including research, product development, and marketing. On the other hand, master’s and PhD internships are more specialized, focusing on experiences gained in specific areas of agriculture, such as agronomy, plant sciences, crop protection, genetics, plant breeding, and agribusiness. These internships involve in-depth research projects or specialized roles related to agricultural innovation.

Some of the tasks that I was responsible for are as follow:

Plot Preparation: During my time as a field crop intern, my responsibilities included scouting for broadleaf and grass weeds, as well as insect pests. I was tasked with preparing experimental plots for research, which typically involved activities such as plot marking and staking. These tasks were essential to ensure consistent and reliable research results. Once the plots were prepared, I played a role in the actual planting of various cereals and row crops. This was done by following specific planting protocols, ensuring uniformity and accuracy in the process. Proper planting techniques are crucial for maintaining the integrity of the research and collecting reliable data on crop growth.

Spray Application: During my internship, I played a crucial role in the spraying discovery and early-phase developmental trials of herbicides and insecticides. As an intern, I had the responsibility of safely and accurately applying these chemicals to crops. This involved following strict safety protocols, possessing the required knowledge of application equipment, and adhering to regulatory guidelines.

Product Efficacy and Data Collection: Ensuring precision, accuracy, and perfect timing in spray application and data collection were the top priorities in my role. Dakota is highly diversified with crops like wheat, durum, barley, sunflower, canola, sugar beets, lentils, and peas. I was involved in spraying different crop protection products and assessing their safety and efficacy. Rating crop safety across different crops, while evaluating product efficiency for Kochia, Red Root Pigweed, Common Lambsquarter, and green and yellow foxtail, was an incredibly exciting experience.

What is your favorite part about your internship experience?

Networking: Throughout this course of time, I have actively cultivated valuable connections by engaging with scientists from the discovery and developmental phase of the product, and people from the business side who were involved in sales and distribution. This proactive approach has allowed me to learn from their diverse industry journeys and passions. I’ve taken the initiative to introduce myself and establish meaningful connections. During these interactions, I have asked professionals about their roles, career paths, and experiences within their respective fields. This not only provided me with valuable insights but also helped me forge connections that may prove to be valuable in the future. Networking has been more than just a professional exercise; it has been an opportunity to build relationships, share knowledge, and gain a deeper understanding of various industries and career trajectories. It’s an ongoing journey that has contributed significantly to my personal and professional growth. Day-to-Day Field Work: Every morning, I felt genuinely excited and positive about heading into the field for work. This wasn’t just a passing feeling; it stemmed from my anticipation of having important and meaningful experiences during fieldwork. The day-to-day tasks were particularly fulfilling for me. The work I undertook on a daily basis provided me with dynamic and hands-on experience in real-world situations. This internship also afforded me the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills, adapt to unexpected challenges, and cultivate critical thinking abilities. The variety of tasks encountered every day, whether it was spraying, rating, or recording data, kept me engaged and enthusiastic about my job. I absolutely loved it

What is the most challenging part of your internship? How have you overcome these obstacles?

One of the most intensive challenges I encountered during my internship was the task of finding a suitable window for spray application. As the saying goes, “Whenever you have the opportunity to spray, seize it without hesitation.” The Great Northern Plains are known for their extreme seasonal variations, characterized by unpredictable winds. Wind can severely impact the effectiveness and safety of spray applications, and strong gusts of wind can lead to drifting, where the spray is carried away from the target area. These challenges contributed to my development of decision-making skills and the ability to choose the right time for spraying.

How did you find your internship?

I heard about the company at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Corteva had a booth where they were engaged with students. I stood by and observed Corteva representatives discussing various programs they offer, such as open innovation programs, initiatives for minority representation in the industry, industrial tours, and early career opportunities like internships and post-doctoral fellowships. This raised questions in my mind, and I approached one of the representatives, who informed me about their internship program. I found this program fascinating and began conversing with different people from Corteva to learn more, including when the internship applications open and how to apply. This experience allowed me to gain deeper insights into the company.

What advice would you give a student who is in the process of searching and applying for an internship in your field?

Clarify your career goals early, research companies and industries that align with your aspirations, and engage in networking to build relationships and gain insights. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, seek mentorship, and maintain a professional online presence. Continuously adapt and learn as you progress toward your career objectives.

By Rachana Wright
Rachana Wright Graduate Assistant - Internship Program