„We would do it again in a heartbeat!“

In 2019, Stiftung Landwirtschaftsverlag has launched a new scholarship program for master's students from the field of agricultural sciences. The first two scholarship holders, Marie Hoffmann and Justin Brinkmann, come from the University of Applied Sciences Südwestfalen, Department of Agricultural Economics in Soest. In an interview with Hermann Bimberg, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees, they talk about their experiences.

Bimberg: How do you rate the overall concept of the Stiftung Landwirtschaftsverlag scholarship?

Brinkmann: The concept is coherent in itself and offers many networking and training opportunities within the Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster group of companies.

Hoffmann: I very much liked the comprehensive range of offers, which are tailored to the preferences of the respective scholarship holders. Particularly in the area of personal development, the opportunity to participate in the LV PrepSchool (editor's note: multi-part continuing education for future managers) deserves special mention.

Bimberg: How would you rate the quality and quantity of the fellows' networking with the various companies of Landwirtschaftsverlag via internships and via participation in events of the Landwirtschaftsverlag group of companies?

Brinkmann: The foundation's board of directors provides support in choosing the right internship, takes the scholarship holder's wishes into account and helps with the application. What you then make of it is up to you. The same applies to participation in the events. There is a wide range on offer.

Hoffmann: The support is excellent. I completed an internship at top agrar online and my corporate internship as part of the master's program at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, which is also a sponsor of the scholarship program.

Bimberg: What internships did you do as part of the fellowship?

Hoffmann: As I said, I worked for top agrar online, where I was mainly involved in social media, but I also wrote online articles on arable farming topics and print articles for the pig farming department. This was followed by a company internship at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG on the St. Mauritz experimental farm in Münster and an internship in the German Bundestag with Member of the Bundestag Dr. Gero Hocker (FDP).

Brinkmann: I worked for eight weeks as an intern in the editorial department of f3 - farm. food. future and then continued as a working student. I was also able to complete an internship at the Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf (8 weeks).

Bimberg: For example, what events have you participated in?

Hoffmann and Brinkmann: We were able to participate in all four modules of the LV PrepSchool for future managers. The main focus here is on personality development, conflict management or leadership qualifications.

We were also present at the top agrar format 'Agriculture in Dialog' in Berlin. Here, the fundamental issues of agriculture and the future framework conditions are discussed with ministers, state secretaries, members of parliament, association representatives, those responsible from the agricultural industry and farmers.

And we were able to participate in various specialist seminars from Wochenblatt, top agrar or profi (seminare.lv.de).

Bimberg: In what way were you able to further your personal qualifications within the framework of the scholarship?

Hoffmann: First and foremost, there was the personality development module taught by Dr. Christian Sauer as part of the PrepSchool. We were then able to deepen the fundamentals we had learned through practical application under the guidance of the supervisors during the internships.

Brinkmann: This has significantly boosted our self-confidence and self-esteem.

Bimberg: To what extent did the fellowship advance or better prepare you for your future career?

Hoffmann: It had a significant impact on my personal development, so that I decided to become a self-employed agri-influencer and built it up during the scholarship.

Brinkmann: The various internships showed me which areas I would like to work in later and which I would rather not. And through the many case studies and role plays in the PrepSchool, we were prepared for how best to behave in certain situations that can arise in working life (e.g. conflicts).

Bimberg: Did the fellowship give you new impulses for your professional life and how have your goals and orientation changed as a result of the fellowship?

Hoffmann: Before the fellowship, I wanted to work in the upstream or downstream sector of the agricultural industry. The contacts I gained during the fellowship would have made this possible. However, I decided to become self-employed because the rapid development of my account into the largest agricultural Instagram account in Europe and many associated 3 cooperations with various agricultural companies showed me that this path has potential and is exactly what I want to do.

Brinkmann: The fellowship awakened and deepened my business management interests even further. With Matthias Weddeling, the managing director of LV digital, a subsidiary of Landwirtschaftsverlag, I learned many methodological basics for project and problem management. The doctorate I was originally aiming for is no longer an issue for me. If I'm going to gain further qualifications, I'd rather do it via a second part-time master's degree (MBA) to further deepen my business knowledge.

Bimberg: How do you rate the endowment of the scholarship (250 €/month for 24 months)?

Brinkmann: The monetary support is secondary. The content is what makes the scholarship so valuable.

Hoffmann: That's why I think the endowment is absolutely appropriate. The scholarship has supported us well in cushioning financial bottlenecks during our studies.

Bimberg: What suggestions do you have for the further development of the scholarship? What can we do better in the future?

Hoffmann: The Landwirtschaftsverlag group of companies has a very broad base. The parent company, with its subsidiaries and holdings, covers the entire food value chain, from production, processing and trade to consumption, including rural life. That's difficult to keep track of at first. If the different areas of the publishing group had been presented to us more intensively at the beginning, we would have found our way around more quickly and easily. For outsiders, it's hard to overlook the areas that make up the group and how the different areas of the company work together.

Brinkmann: But that's complaining on a high level. Otherwise, the content clearly exceeded expectations.

Bimberg: Would you apply again?

Brinkmann and Hoffmann: In any case, we would not hesitate a second.

Justin Brinkmann now works as a management trainee at Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster. Marie Hoffmann is an agricultural influencer and now has 329,000 followers on Instagram.