Saint Mary’s senior Ella Boomgaarden grew up in the small Minnesota town of Saint Peter, Minn. A member of a smaller graduating high school class, she knew when it was time to pick a college that she wanted to keep the small-town experience with her, which is what led her to Saint Mary’s.

The advantage of a smaller school and personal attention from staff and faculty at Saint Mary’s opened the door for a big opportunity: an internship with the Minnesota-based Cargill corporation.

When Boomgaarden arrived at Saint Mary’s, she knew she wanted to study in one of the STEM fields but was unsure of exactly which one. After landing in the math department, Boomgaarden explored the various educational tracks she could take with the major, and eventually picked up statistics and analytics minors.

“I declared as a math major and decided to dip my foot into the education path with it,” Boomgaarden said. “I liked the math major but realized I didn’t care for education. After talking with my advisor, we looked up what sort of jobs someone could take with a math major, and I kind of got stuck on the idea of doing data analytics.”

During her junior year, Boomgaarden saw a posting for a business analyst internship at Cargill that required IT experience. Having taken some computer science courses for her major, she felt the need to apply.

During the application and interview process, Boomgaarden immediately turned to Saint Mary’s Career Services for assistance.

“The staff in Career Services helped me so much in this process, from writing my resume, setting up mock interviews, and even setting up a room for my virtual interview with a nice background,” she said. “Every step of the way, they would say, ‘Here is what you need, and here is how we can help you.’”

With the help she received, Boomgaarden secured the internship and set up shop at Cargill’s headquarters in the Twin Cities for the summer. During her internship, Boomgaarden worked with different corn processing plants acquired by Cargill, helping them move over to the company’s software.

“My day-to-day through those three months was testing data, and then creating test data for other people to test to make sure all the programs ran correctly,” she said.

While she was only there for three months, Boomgaarden said Cargill did a wonderful job bringing the interns up to speed and making sure they understood the work in front of them. She also appreciated the professional development opportunities provided by the company.

“One thing my boss stressed was networking,” she said. “I’m really glad I had that opportunity and glad Cargill values that. I was able to network with other data analysts, business intelligence analysts, and people in human resources. And at the end of the day, that really set me up to succeed.”

And while Cargill set her up for success, Boomgaarden said her experiences at Saint Mary’s set her up to go above and beyond.

“Whenever I was in a room with bosses and superiors, I knew how to talk to them because I speak with my professors, my advisors, and the staff at Career Services regularly,” she said. “I went into the summer with competence because I was able to talk to my bosses like they were regular people, where other interns were saying, ‘Oh, they’re a boss or an executive and we can’t speak with them. To me, talking to these people was no different than going to a professor during office hours.”

With the internship experience behind her, Boomgaarden hopes to return to Cargill but says she is open to other opportunities that cross her path.

“This internship has made my resume a million times better,” she said. “Moving forward, I’m going to look at business analyst positions because, after the summer, I know I’m capable of doing the work.”

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