Computer Science Students and Staff Visit Cargill IT Headquarters

February 22, 2010

The annual undergraduate trip to Cargill IT headquarters in Minneapolis, MN took place on January 28 and 29, 2010. Students from three colleges-LAS, Business, and Engineering-took advantage of the opportunity to see IT at work in the corporate world and interact with employees at Cargill. For students in the Computer Science department, the trip is one of several annual trips to visit a company that seeks out ISU graduates as potential employees. For Cargill, the meeting is a chance to build relationships with students that have an interest in working for the company in the future. Cargill IT employees and ISU alumni Jody DePenning (B.S. MIS '01) and Ben Reagan (B.S. Com Sci '03), remarked that when students come on this kind of trip "we learn which students stand out based on their interest in the activities, questions they ask and their attitude. We learn who may be interested in the kinds of jobs Cargill has to offer, which tend to be much different than a purely technical IT job." 

Dan Brouwer (freshman, Com Sci) and Jay Hong (freshman, Com Sci) agreed. "I discovered that, in general, their IT professionals work very closely with the business side of the company," Brouwer commented. "The amount of actual time spent coding varies depending on the job, but I thought it was interesting to hear that most employees spend only roughly 40% to 60% of their time writing code." Hong thought, "in a nutshell, the whole trip was awesome and very informative...working at Cargill is a whole new level of experience." 

Thao Pham (freshman, Com Sci) stated, "we got to talk to ISU alumni that now work at Cargill who gave us important tips on how to get an internship at Cargill. We also got to do an interactive team project activity in order to simulate team projects that are done on a consistent basis at Cargill. I learned a lot of new things...[one being] that my previous opinions of IT jobs being tedious and limited to a cubicle was false!" 

Christina Elliot (senior, Com Sci) has done IT internships, but remarked that at Cargill, "everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was cheerful, helpful, and humorous even! I felt so very welcome...and I instantly knew why Cargill employees speak so highly of their work environment. I had a blast shadowing a female technical programmer on her daily duties." 

Senior lecturer Simanta Mitra and undergraduate advisor Gloria Cain also attended from the Computer Science department. Cain says that the trip is important for staff as well as students. "The more I find out about the companies that want to hire our students, the better equipped I am to answer their questions about what the work environment is like in different places." 

The annual trip is hosted and sponsored entirely by Cargill.