Laura Brookshire said her summer internships in child nutrition services and with community gardens led to her job with Farm Aid.
Laura Brookshire ’16 credits internships and work with AmeriCorps for helping her stand out when it came time to interview for a career position. Brookshire came to Appalachian State University for graduate school, earning her master’s degree in Appalachian studies with a concentration in sustainable development and in public administration. As the program manager at Farm Aid, she administers the non-profit’s grant program, farmer services and resource network from her office in Boston.
During her AmeriCorps service, Brookshire worked in Polk County, North Carolina, for the agricultural economic development office while living on a small, family farm. Her Appalachian studies internship was in Knox County, Kentucky, at a host site for Grow Appalachia, administered through Berea College. “I spent summer 2014 establishing community gardens and starting a county farmer’s market with another App alumna. I also helped home gardeners learn to use organic methods,” she said.
For her MPA internship she worked for the Transylvania County school system in the child nutrition office in summer 2015. Learning about school lunch programs has been helpful for her job at Farm Aid because, “some of our grantee organizations work on farm-to-school and school garden programs and policies.”
Brookshire said all of her intern experiences were valuable learning experiences and encourages students to make the effort: “The internships allowed me to apply what I had learned in the classroom in real-world settings and also influenced my research topics. All together, my courses and internships rounded out my resume to help me get my current position.”
She said her professor, Dr. Mark Bradbury, director of the MPA program, repeatedly reminded students that internships were valuable in that they informed the student about work they did not want to pursue, as much as the other way around. About her chosen programs and the individual internships, she said, “The MPA gave me the practical everyday skills; the App studies experience gave me the broader outlook for community organization and sustainable development.”
Brookshire found her job at Farm Aid through a listserv, a resource she said everyone should use when searching for jobs. Support from professors is also vital when job searching. “Dr. Mark Bradbury at Appalachian is the No. 1 resource for public administration jobs,” she said, and in Appalachian Studies, “Dr. Billy Schumann sent me job announcements in my field. Both professors also created opportunities for me to network with App alumni who had connections in my areas of interest.”