You should always go to an interview well prepared for that final interview question: “Do you have any questions for me/us?” If you’ve given serious thought to how to answer that question, it is quite possible you are already ahead of the majority of job seekers. When that question is posed, It is important not to be too forward, but assertive enough to display confidence and poise. Most people have heard the advice not to ask any questions about salary, as it can appear a bit desperate and tacky. I am going to stay away from those types of questions for another reason though…..asking questions like the examples below can not only serve to further your understanding of whether the position is a fit for you personally, but can also help the interviewer identify more desirable qualities in you. Let’s explore a few examples:
1. Why did you choose to work for this company?
I always love this one, as the interviewer doesn’t usually have a canned answer given the more personal nature of the question. You will likely receive a more candid answer that will provide you with valuable insight. It may also help you gain more common ground with the interviewer that could work in your favor.
Iowa native Carlton Ness, a graduate of South Hamilton High School and Iowa State University, is beginning his fifth year as a high school ag teacher. Teaching for four years at Aplington-Parkersburg High School, he has returned to South Hamilton in Jewell, Iowa to teach agricultural education and industrial technology in his hometown. I sat down with Carlton to ask about what it’s really like to work as an ag teacher as a celebration for ag educators throughout North America on Teach Ag Day.
What made you want to become an ag teacher?
I had a really good relationship with my high school ag teacher, Steve Olson. He did a lot for me and kind of pointed me in the right direction. I remember when I was in high school, students had to teach a lesson in one class, and after I had taught my lesson, he asked me if I had ever considered becoming an ag teacher. At the time, I just kind of laughed it off. He actually made me go to a workshop when I was a senior for those who might want to become an ag teacher, and I really liked it. I went to Iowa State thinking that animal science was what I wanted to do, but I did take some agricultural education classes. By the end of my freshman year, I had switched my major to ag education.
What is a day in the life like for you?
It’s pretty different all throughout the year because there are so many different things going on, especially in terms of extracurricular activities like the FFA Chapter. In the fall, we’re busy with getting the FFA year started and National Convention. There are lots of CDE contests in the winter and we look forward to speaking contests in the spring with practice after school. Then there are monthly meetings for FFA. It’s hard to really pinpoint what a typical day is like, because there isn’t one. And even with teaching, I teach seven very different classes. We may be working in a lab or out in the shop or taking a test. I think that’s why I like this job so much, because there’s so much variety. I never feel like I’m coming to work. I always feel like I’m doing something that I enjoy with kids.
Wouldn’t it be great to create a resume that would work for eternity? In your dreams! To be effective resumes need to be regularly refreshed, updated, and tailored. The initial crafting of a resume is such an art and can be quite daunting. That is likely why the task of a resume refresh can seem intimidating as well! Focus on these simple eight resume refresh tips to alleviate some of the angst.
1. Contact Information – This may seem simple, but can easily be overlooked. Consider new phone numbers, addresses and such, but also social media platforms that you’d like to share. Remember only share those social media platforms where you maintain a professional persona.
2. Objective Statement/Talent Profile – One of the most subjective parts of a resume! If you’ve included either of these or something similar, this is a great place to tailor your resume to the role you are applying for. If the resume is to be used for more generic purposes, such as at a career fair or in an online resume database, this is still an excellent place to distinguish your interests if you have multiple areas of interest. For example, you might have an objective statement that is focused on marketing, but then another resume with an objective statement geared toward public relations.
For many in the 21 and up crowd, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold sip of beer, particularly after a hard day at work or on an especially warm summer day. Beer connoisseurs often discuss the intricacies of the various types and tastes of beer, but how many of you have ever thought about how beer is made?
The process of getting your beer from its roots as barley in the field, to the cool refreshing drink in your hand, is a process steeped in agriculture and STEM technology. Beer makers grow or import barley and hops to use in the preparation of this thirst-quenching drink.
After harvesting the barley and hops for the beer, the barley is soaked in water for an hour to help begin the fermentation process. This allows the natural sugars in the barley to escape and produce alcohol as it ferments.
After graduating with a degree in Agricultural Science and minor in Horticulture from North Carolina State University, Carrie Barnhardt worked as an assistant greenhouse grower. Barnhardt provided care to six-plus acres of plants under roof in one of the largest greenhouse facilities in the Southeast where millions of high-quality annuals and perennials were grown.
“While I may have been over-qualified for this role, I learned a lot about the industry and enjoyed working with a large variety of plants in all stages of production,” said Barnhardt. Even if you don’t find your dream job right away, working and gaining experience after graduation is an essential component to building your resume and making yourself more marketable. “Companies would rather work with someone who is demonstrating initiative over someone who takes months or years off after graduation. Believe me, they will ask what you did during your time of unemployment,” added Barnhardt.
In the working world, we often talk about work-life balance. For the life of a college student, there are similar challenges. Let’s call it student-life balance. According to most research the average full-time college student will take 16 hours of class each semester. Let’s break that down into the week of the college student and allow for some other student life activities:
16 hours of class/week
• Study time – 15 hours (according to research, successful students spend each week)
• Meal time – 10 hours (many students skip breakfast, so let’s not include that meal)
• Free time – 7 hours (socializing with friends, intramural sports, exercise, games, etc.)
• Part-time job – 10 hours (studies show a growing number of students like to earn play money)
*I’m sure there are a few basic requirement time slot buckets for the student, but, we will stick with the above for now. And, I will say that the “PT job” is an attractive investment of time in the eyes of an employer.
I am a firm believer in the employability and stronger earning potential of technical degrees compared to many bachelor degree programs. And I’m not alone, you’ll find recent articles from TIME, The Huffington Post and others with stories and research regarding the successful paths of graduates with two-year degrees. However, often job seekers in this community lack some of the more traditional opportunities to connect with potential employers which place even more emphasis on the importance of networking for the career of your dreams.
Associate/Technical/or Two-Year degree holders should absolutely be networking online. Following and interacting with companies of interest on social media sites, building an online portfolio or resume and utilizing online resume databases are all important avenues to be active within. Technical degrees mean just that, that you have a very specific set of skills and having a professional online presence will allow you to broadcast those skills for employers to identify. Many of my personal connections who have some of these very specific set of skills utilize them in their personal hobbies as well as in the workplace. When that is apparent on your social media profiles, you may open the door to new connections to help you find a career. However, don’t rely solely on the internet. Many careers for two-year graduates can still be found in newspaper or magazine ads or even through a recruiting or placement firm.
Many times we find ourselves completing our degree and not interested in the pathway in which we studied. We might choose to take a risk on something different or find ourselves in a different location and must find other opportunities. Throughout the years, this happened to many of my peers. Maybe their first job wasn’t the traditional choice, but it helped them along the way to find a career that they loved. I reached out to a few of my peers for some words of wisdom on career path changes.
Kristen Baughman has had the most amazing career journey. She completed her B.S. in Extension Education with a focus in Nutrition Science & M.S. in Extension Education with a focus in Agricultural Leadership. Her first job after graduating was with North Carolina Department of Agriculture as an Outreach Coordinator for the Food & Drug Division. Kristen gives her non-formal education focused degree credit for her success in her first role. Her communication skills have been necessary from the beginning and were a contributing factor to her being hired. Kristen says “My career path is a little crazy!”
And boy is she right! While working at NCDA, Kristen started a blog, 43 Day Local Food Challenge. This mission of eating only locally grown and produced food, opened up an opportunity for her to be the “Foodie” blogger for Visit Raleigh, where she ate and drank her way around Greater Raleigh. Her blogging led to her next role as the Public Relations Specialist with the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series. From there Kristen started her own consulting business focusing on social media and marketing services for food and beverage clients. You would have thought that was the highlight for this young professional; however, she moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2014, and is recently back to Raleigh where she started a boutique media agency, Tabletop Media Group.