Cultivating Future Industry Leaders

Cultivating Future Industry Members

Photo of Juan Gaytan, Allan Brothers HR Manager, and Luz Maria Silva, WAEF student and Allan Brothers intern

Photo of Juan Gaytan, Allan Brothers HR Manager, and Luz Maria Silva, WAEF student and Allan Brothers intern

We are thrilled to get to share about successful internships occurring at Allan Brothers in Naches. Earlier this summer we received word that one of our WAEF students, Luz Maria Silva was hired by Allan Brothers as an intern in their Human Resources Department.   This week we spent some time with Luz and her supervisor, Human Resources Manager Juan Gaytan, learning more about the intern experience from both the employee and employer perspectives.

This year Allan Brothers hired interns in HR, engineering and IT department. We asked Juan how interns impact the workplace, "We have been pleased with the quality of work from interns employed this summer. They arrive seeking a learning experience and a background of accountability through their college experiences. Our interns pay attention to detail and have high quality of work expectations."

Juan shared that they structure their intern program to cover the experiences necessary to become a full-time employee in the department. In the HR department, interns learned to staff the phones, distribute checks and find answers to employee questions. They were also charged with "onboarding" new hires for cherry and apple seasons. Onboard includes walking through the new hire paperwork, consistently presenting rules and handbook information, providing tours of the facilities and eventually adding these new employees to the payroll system. Once they complete their learning objectives, interns "graduate" to become HR assistants.

Luz is a second year WAEF scholarship recipient attending Eastern Washington University seeking a degree in business administration with a HR emphasis. This experience was a dream come true for her! Luz shared that her background having worked on a cherry line and with family employed in the industry helped her to feel like she could relate to company employees, "I enjoy talking with people and helping employees." Luz has had intern experiences in other HR offices. How does Allan Brothers compare? "It is really busy here. We move around quickly and get to interact a lot more with employees in person, instead of just paperwork."

For Luz, and many other interns, the experience provides a brand new perspective of what work in the tree fruit industry looks like. Luz shared that she can see herself working at Allan Brothers in the future and is pleased that the experiences she's had working in the food industry may help her in her future career. With a more defined career plan in mind, Luz can shape her remaining college years.

And that aligns with the goals of Allan Brothers for their intern program. Allan Brothers CEO Miles Kohl shared the company hires temporary workers and summer interns as a means of identifying future talent for the company: "We have always used cherry season and its temporary work force as a means to identify talent and educate that talent on the opportunities within the broader tree fruit industry and the company itself.  We have been able to retain a lot of people into immediate positions, often times entry level skilled or management positions, and then seen those same employees work their way up in job scope and skills. We would like to use the intern program in the same way, students who already have a career path in mind who can lean practical skills and knowledge in a real work environment while filling a need for us in a temporary position.  It further offers us the opportunity to evaluate the prospective employee for our future needs both during future cherry seasons and full time when the student graduates."

Miles backed up the company's philosophy with a recent success story, "We also have the more extreme example, an employee that worked cherry season while in high school and college who changed his college and major (CWU - Veterinary Science to WSU - Tree Fruit Physiology) with the intent to come to work full-time at Allan Brothers. We are assisting with tuition and he has a job lined up with us when he graduates from WSU after this fall semester.  As an industry, if we made more of a concerted effort in providing intern opportunities we would have a larger pool of talent to draw from to fill the ever growing needs of industry in technical and skilled positions."

WAEF has approached internships with the goal of helping both students and industry employers. We see the amazing jobs and opportunities provided by tree fruit industry employers and are frequently hearing concerns voiced by employers about the need for more talent in all areas of the industry. Paralleling is our experiences with remarkable, driven students planning to return to their home communities and completely unfamiliar with what the industry has to offer. We believe some great matches are ready to be made.

In a busy industry finding time to structure an intern program and recruit candidates is a significant obstacle. This is where we hope some of the resources WAEF has to offer can be of assistance. Interested employers can download our Intern Packet.  This offers tips from others offering intern programs and from participants in intern programs. We can also be used as a source for locating college enrolled young people with a background in the tree fruit industry.

If you're interested in working with the foundation to find and prepare for interns, please contact Jennifer Witherbee at (509) 663-7713 or Jennifer.witherbee@waef.org. We appreciate this might not be the best time of year for you to visit about internships, just let us know now you're interested and we will contact you in the late fall to discuss.