From Networking Night to Internship
Hadley Beechinor was planning to spend the summer between her freshman and sophomore year at the University of Idaho working on her family farm in Walla Walla, Washington. A conversation with representatives from Beef Northwest during an employer networking night held by the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences changed those plans.
Beechinor, a sophomore double majoring in agricultural economics: agribusiness emphasis and animal and veterinary science: business option, attended the networking night in fall 2022 to start making connections, but did not expect it to lead to an internship.
“I originally wasn’t going to apply since I was just a freshman at the time, but after I talked with them and left my resume, they reached out to me and encouraged me to apply,” she said. “Seeing an opportunity available that actually hires students that young, I kind of jumped at the opportunity.”
Seeing the Full Picture
Beechinor spent 10 weeks during summer 2023 as an administrative intern based at Beef Northwest’s headquarters in North Powder, Oregon. She spent time processing incoming cattle in the yard with the operations team, purchasing cattle and managing shipping and receiving with the procurement team, and learning about futures, hedging and trading with the risk management team. She was able to see firsthand what it takes to run a large livestock operation.
“I liked how the internship gave me the whole overview,” she said. “I could tie what was happening physically with feeding and processing the cattle into how it works on the business end. And then I really liked the hedging and risk management side as well since that’s where a lot of my interest is. Being able to see it actually put into place, beyond the classroom, was really interesting.”
The internship program also requires students to complete a project with real-world implications. Because of her interest in risk management, Beechinor chose to do a cattle ownership project. Using a group of cattle feeding on grass at the North Powder location, Beechinor created a production plan, including processing, medical expenses, rent and cost difference between feeding on pasture versus in the feed lot. She also came up with her own hedging and risk management plan utilizing actual markets and determined what she would sell and hedge the cattle to be able to make a profit.
The internship experience will benefit Beechinor as she begins taking courses for a certificate in agricultural commodity risk management at U of I.
“I grew up hearing about the markets and the local grain prices and it was always something that was interesting to me but that I didn’t have a ton of background in,” she said. “I love looking at the cause and effects of the markets and being able to analyze the trends and markets.”
The agricultural commodity risk management program was one of the things that originally drew Beechinor to U of I. She was planning to attend a larger university in the Midwest but took the advice of a Vandal alumni working as a grain trader in Walla Walla to consider U of I.
“I was planning on going further away to Kansas State or Purdue,” she said. “I toured U of I my junior year and the tour was a lot more impressive than I expected. I toured those other schools and was asking them about some things they might have as compared to U of I, like using real money to trade and get that experience, and both of those programs don’t have anything like that, so that was even more enticing for me.”
Beechinor is considering a career in commodity trading and risk management, either on the livestock side with an operation like Beef Northwest or working at a co-op or larger commodity trading company. But first she hopes to complete additional internships to gain more experience and make sure she’s on the right career path.
“I think internships are one of the best things you can do as a student because you can see what you’re interested in and be able to touch different aspects without fully saying this is what I’m committed to careerwise,” she said.
Article by Amy Calabretta, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Photos by Rio Spiering, University of Idaho Visual Productions
Published in October 2023