Derrick Nelson

Mill Operations Future Leader


We study and work hard throughout college towards a goal: securing our dream job. But how do you know if you will truly enjoy the work? Internships give a glimpse into that career. At Didion, our mission is to provide meaningful internships for college students. Our interns work alongside chemists, microbiologists, and food engineers, gaining real-world experience and the ability to showcase their skills and ideas. Our interns impact the company – they aren’t just there to file papers.

Derrick Nelson, who was then attending Kansas State University, saw a rare learning opportunity to work at a brand-new mill with cutting-edge technology and knew he wanted to be a part of it. He applied, and Didion welcomed Derrick as a milling intern in 2019.

“As an intern, I was given critical projects and encouraged to grow my knowledge within the field, which provided me the opportunity to significantly impact the company as a whole,” Derrick shared.

Before Didion, Derrick held three internships: one at an ethanol plant in high school and two while enrolled in college. Out of all his internships, Derrick says his experience with Didion was by far the best because it was drastically different in how it was structured and the amount of freedom in his role.

“By having the ability to collaborate on higher-level projects, it made me feel valued as an intern, which from my experience doesn’t happen all that often,” stated Derrick.

When asked what his key takeaway was, Derrick said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions or jump into a project because that is how you learn. If you discover a problem and you have an idea, share it.”


It is important to provide a tremendous intern experience for students, so they can apply what they are learning and get real-world experience. It’s also an essential role at Didion because it potentially opens the door for full-time employment after graduating.

Because of his incredible internship experience, Derrick knew that he wanted to start his career with Didion after college. The values Didion holds and the drive for continuous improvement and growth as a company resonated with Derrick’s personal and professional goals.

After graduating from Kansas State, Derrick joined the team full-time in 2020 as a Mill Operations Leader-in-Training. His experience set him up for success by building a solid foundation in process knowledge and developing strong relationships with fellow teammates.

Didion’s internship program is unlike anywhere else. We seek team-minded individuals who are visionary thinkers and offer them resources to advance their careers while helping push Didion forward. Interested in learning more about Didion’s internship program? Contact: Amy Jones at ajones@didionmilling.com.