Internship Spotlight: Maddie Stein

Maddie is a second-year AFE student who interned on the Sustainability Team at Stonyfield Organic. A little bit about her experience:

In just a few sentences, please tell us about your summer internship. How does it connect to your personal and professional interests?   

This past summer (and into spring 2024!), I interned on the sustainability team of Stonyfield Organic, a certified organic yogurt brand based in Londonderry, NH and owned by Lactalis, a French multinational dairy company. My role involved research, data collection, and analysis in support of Stonyfield’s sustainable agriculture strategy. This included conducting soil carbon sampling on dairy farms in Vermont and Maine, developing literature reviews on soil carbon stocks in the region, collecting farm management data for carbon footprinting and other climate data tools, and working with partners such as Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment on opportunities for streamlining farmer data collection. As part of Lactalis USA’s responsible sourcing strategy, I also conducted benchmarking research to provide recommendations for the company’s responsible sourcing initiatives. I am excited about career opportunities that leverage data analytics to advance the sustainability of the food supply chain and support farmers in their implementation of climate-friendly growing practices, and my Stonyfield work has been the perfect opportunity to gain private sector experience in both of these areas.

How did you land your internship?

Stonyfield had been on my radar for a while as a food company I’d love to work for, and the internship came up a few times early on in my classes. One of my professors alerted students when the job was posted, and I applied (through the online system) in the next day or two. I had a Zoom interview a few weeks later.

What did you enjoy about your internship? What did you find challenging?  

This role has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Not only did I get a crash course in organic dairy operations, but I also gained valuable experience with a variety of digital farm management and climate modeling tools. I also loved the collaborative aspect of my work. In addition to working with internal teams ranging from procurement to executive leadership to marketing, I frequently collaborated with terrific partner organizations such as Wolfe’s Neck Center, Regrow, and The Soil Inventory Project. Given my previous farming experience, I was especially excited to work directly with Stonyfield’s New England farmers. This role certainly provided a window into the challenges surrounding data collection for climate-related work. Obtaining high-quality, thorough data from farmers is essential but difficult given the competing priorities and time constraints farmers face. This speaks to the importance of user-friendly digital platforms that streamline data collection for farmers (and other stakeholders).

What are the necessary soft and hard skills needed for this position?  

Qualitative and quantitative research and analysis skills as well as the ability to synthesize research findings and quantitative data for a variety of audiences were key hard skills for this internship. Content-specific knowledge around CSR, greenhouse gas accounting, and soil carbon analysis was also valuable. A few important soft skills in this position were communication, time management, and organization.  

If you could offer one piece of internship search advice to your peers, what would it be?   

Carve out time for informational interviews! They can help you visualize the day-to-day of different career paths while expanding your network. Plus, I almost always get ideas for other organizations to explore or individuals to connect with in these calls.  

By Hannah Symons
Hannah Symons Administrative Coordinator