As a human resources intern, business administration major Julia Lanctot ’21 never expected to see the inside of a yogurt factory. But Stonyfield Organic in Londonderry, N.H., stresses firsthand experience with the production process.
Employees from all departments of the organic yogurt company donned hard hats and lab coats and lint-rolled their clothing to code before watching with bugged eyes as Stonyfield’s yogurt came to life. In the wide open warehouse, their bodies sweltered from the heat of the incubator maintaining an optimal temperature. Machinery filled the room in neat lines and sections; a series of metal tubes released yogurt into pints that zoomed down a conveyor belt to receive their lids. Mechanical arms shuttled the yogurt from one area to the next until they were packaged and sent off for shipping.
“I think it’s important that Stonyfield shows employees how yogurt is made because that’s what we’re all working toward — selling this yogurt,” Lanctot said.
When she wasn’t observing the yogurt production process, Lanctot sent emails, organized on-site training, worked on quality control within the plant and planned events. Her main focus, however, was putting together a health and wellness fair for Stonyfield employees. For the fair to come to fruition, Lanctot contacted various vendors to solidify their commitments, and she was adamant about ensuring that the event provide important resources and be anything but boring.
When the health and wellness fair rolled around, her efforts proved worthwhile, with great employee and vendor turnout. She achieved her goal by providing a list of resources to help employees enhance their personal health. In addition, employees gained a greater understanding of the benefits Stonyfield provides.
Lanctot said she came away from the internship with stronger communication skills.
“Coming into this internship, I thought I was good at communicating,” Lanctot said. “But when you have to send 50 emails in one day, you don’t have time to sit there and read it over and over. You have to be quick on your toes.”
Her interpersonal skills progressed even more through intern outings — after-work events Stonyfield sponsored to foster intern relationships. These experiences, including a trip to the local bowling alley, helped Lanctot connect with her coworkers and build a more empathetic work environment.
“A big part of working in this business is getting to know who you’re working with,” Lanctot said. “I think that’s important for companies to look at. We can all think we’re the busiest person, but if you take time to step into someone else’s shoes, you’ll see everyone is busy in their own way.”
When it comes to finding an internship, Lanctot stressed the importance of reaching out to Colby-Sawyer’s Harrington Center for Experiential Learning for guidance, something that greatly helped her. Faculty were also invaluable, as she credits Project Manager and Professor Beth Crockford and Assistant Professor Kim France as two of her greatest supporters.
“They really are invested in what we do, which is a great feeling, to know that someone’s invested in your future,” Lanctot said.