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Having a Ball

Sean_Fitzsimmons.jpgSean Fitzsimmons

"We color the world" is the slogan for Ball Horticultural Co., a leading international developer and distributor of plants. The company certainly provided a rich palette of experiences for Sean Fitzsimmons.

The fifth-year Penn State horticulture student was one of the lucky thirteen chosen from around the country to work as an intern at the corporation’s North American plant in Chicago. "Ball is one of the biggest names in horticulture," the Frankfort, Ill., native said. "I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with them."

Fitzsimmons worked mostly on a project comparing unreleased varieties of vegetables and flowers developed by Ball to existing and new varieties from the company’s competitors. But he found himself doing myriad tasks that ranged from planting an aquatic garden to monitoring vegetable research, and from setting up a trade show booth to working on an ad campaign with the marketing department.

One of the best aspects of the internship, according to Fitzsimmons, was that every other week all of the interns from around the company gathered to hear a presentation from people in each department and tour their facility. They heard presentations from plant breeders, in-house growers, marketing department staff members, supplier-relations staff members, and others.

"For someone like me who was still a bit unsure of what I wanted to do within the field of horticulture, these meetings were invaluable," he said.

Fitzsimmons also had the valuable opportunity to talk one-on-one with CEO Anna Ball, meeting with her on several occasions for up to an hour just to ask about her experiences and get career advice.

"It’s rare that you find a CEO of a multibillion-dollar international corporation who sets aside enough time to personally ask a lowly intern for coffee, let alone hold an hour-long discussion."

Hannah Lane