Contributed by: Lauren Vann, Sales Support Coordinator, AgCareers.com
We have all heard the infamous question “So what are you going to do when you graduate?” Now how many of you actually know or knew before graduation what you really were going to do? If you were anything like me it took the week before you graduated to finally secure a job. My biggest frustration was deciding which sectors in agriculture to focus on.
I grew up on a farm, so I applied to jobs related to those commodities we grew. I had marketing internships, so I applied to marketing jobs. And the applying goes on and on where I eventually lost track of where my resume was. Looking back I wish I had been given tips or a guide book so that I did not waste my energy elsewhere.
Taking from my personal experiences, fellow graduates, and industry friends, I have developed a few tips on answering that in famous question — what do you want to do?
• Focus on your agricultural personalities. An example is wasting your energy applying to an animal production facility if you know that you wouldn’t like the smell, or applying to only desk jobs if you love the outdoors.
• Know your resume and what you are qualified to do. If a job requires 3+ years of work experience that doesn’t mean your part-time college job is always relatable. If it is, you can explain that in your cover letter.
• Start exploring early. Don’t wait until you need an internship or a job to begin looking at possible career opportunities. Begin to learn about all of the options early and often. Go to career fairs in your first year to learn about companies, jobs and organizations. Attend info sessions at club and organization meetings. Subscribe to or read online industry publications.
• Internships! If you are not graduating make sure you are applying for internships. Make every effort to get as much experience as possible. Many internships help you get a feel for a sector without the long term commitment and could even result in a full-time position. If you are graduating, never think you are too old for an internship program. If you enjoyed your internship(s) look for similar entry-level jobs.
• Look for trainee programs. This requires you to plan ahead. Most programs have their selections of who they want to participate in their trainee program by December. Many companies have you work a certain amount of time in each department, which can help you see what you do and do not like, providing insight into what you might like to pursue.
• Temporary work assignments can provide sector insight. If a company offers you a temporary assignment, or contract, look at it as a learning opportunity to see if you are a good fit in the sector or culture. Many companies like this approach for new grads to see if they are committed before providing full-time offers and benefits.
• Procrastination is your worst enemy. You are competing with students all over the United States, do not sit back and let them take all the jobs while you say “I’ll start looking tomorrow.”
• Talk to your advisor or favorite professors. They taught the hiring managers of today years ago and can help direct you to someone as an industry mentor. Having an industry mentor can help you find ways to network with industry leaders and help you when applying to jobs.
• Job shadowing can help you branch out to other sectors. You may have at least one class assignment that requires you to job shadow, but you can utilize your professors’ connections and job shadow multiple companies and different roles within that company. It helps you network and learn from others in the industry.
• Post your resume in AgCareers.com’s resume database. Many employers utilize this tool daily to find new hires without advertising their job. This can help you be approached by employers instead of approaching them.
• Look outside of your zip code. Internships or first jobs are a great way to test the boundaries of your state and think outside of the box. Willingness to move to another region or state could make you very marketable.
Take our Ideal Career in Ag Quiz to find out what your perfect career may be based on your interests.
Hopefully you can now take these tips and quiz results to help tackle your job search!
AgCareers.com is the leading ag-specific career portal for job seekers. Employers post more than 5,000 jobs on the site monthly. Job seekers are provided free access to the industry specific job board, ability to post their resume in the database, and review online educational materials. For more information, visit www.AgCareers.com.