Kyle Neher recently began his career as a mechanical engineer as Lab Activities Engineer for John Deere in Ottumwa, Iowa. Here, he tells a little bit about what his role is like and advice he has for aspiring mechanical engineers.
What made you want to become a mechanical engineer?
As I grew up I was always very good with math and science, and enjoyed problem-solving. This led me to trying to solve problems on the farm in unique ways, and eventually I learned about engineering and decided to get my degree in the engineering field.
What is a day in the life like for you?
My role as a Lab Activities engineer requires me to work with product development teams to design and run tests to collect data that will help determine if a part will hold up to its design life when being operated out in the field. These tests can be done in the plant or can take place in the field.
By Danielle Tucker, 2017 AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
You probably haven’t seen anyone out handpicking corn with a husking knife or a peg strapped to the palm of their hands. Why not? Because science, technology, engineering and mathematics have helped change agriculture. These fields are what are known as STEM careers.
Farmers cannot feed the world alone. If we solely rely on the diminishing number of farmers to meet the demand of food, there won’t be enough to go around. Pursuing a STEM degree will open a countless number of doors for you.
If you are wondering what kinds of opportunities there are, the designated STEM degree list has over 400 degree programs listed. If you were to glance over the list, you would find most of them relate to agriculture in more ways than you may realize. You can match these degrees to hundreds of job opportunities that exist within agriculture. Students pursuing degrees in STEM are carving new tools to find solutions to feeding the drastically rising demand for food.
Agriculture is one of the best pathways to choose for students because of the sheer amount of opportunity within the industry. Innovations in sustainable agriculture, precision technology, and plant/soil science are creating exciting new skilled trade roles each year.
Some of the roles that are in the most difficult to fill are within the skilled trade realm. There are simply not enough students entering these career pathways to fulfill the vacancy demand within agriculture. If you are in high school just considering your career path, or are mature, and open to retraining for a second career; consider training in a skilled trade. These roles can span every industry type within agriculture, and often include mechanics, welders, electricians, technicians, and specialists.
On April 27, I had the pleasure to virtually attend STEMConnector’s first #AGis Town Hall meeting live from Washington, D.C. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are critical career areas we at AgCareers.com frequently advocate for, and as supporters of STEMConnector, we eagerly share in VP/Chief Strategy Officer Ted Wells’ opening remarks: “Agriculture is critical in order to sustainably feed the world.” And what better way to do this than to pursue careers in STEM?
Kevin O’Sullivan, Vice President of Global Equipment and Engineering Technologies at PepsiCo, opened the seminar by sharing, “There’s a stigma attached to food and agriculture; instead of thinking about seed and farms and tractors, we should be thinking about robots and drones and science and technology.” There will certainly always be a place for the top-of-mind elements of agriculture, but as the industry continues to progress, it’s plain to see that agriculture is steeped in technology and scientific advancement.
A day in the life of an ag HR professional may not vary at the surface from industry to industry. There will always be positions to fill, new hires to orient, performance management objectives on which to coach, training initiatives to meet, and another fire to put out. And of course, these things are to be expected in day-to-day HR and for most HR professionals, these challenges are what attracted them to the field. While to the outside world, the world of agriculture HR can look like any other industry, on the inside, things can look much different.
A few years ago, a young adult sought guidance on asking their employer for a raise. They were certain it was only the right thing to do as they had done well with the onboarding and initial training program. The young employee was feeling comfortable where they had been placed within the organization and had eagerly taken on responsibility. This person was advised that its very common for new employees to ask for a raise within the first 3 months of employment. If they were to move up in earrings they’d have to initiate it. Luckily, someone else advised it was a bad idea and if they wanted to move up they’d keep up the good work and not risk offending the employer. I completely agreed.
If someone has given you advice to ask for a raise before the time is right, please ignore them. While there is no absolute answer as to when is the right time to ask for a raise, start with this list to see if timing is in your favor.
Agriculture is such a great industry to consider joining! As consumer demand for agricultural products is growing both domestically and internationally, demand for a diversity of careers increases as well. And contrary to popular belief, many jobs in ag are very well-paid. To illustrate, below is a list of the five highest-paying jobs in agriculture.
A company’s foremost senior executives hold strategic management and prominent leadership roles within a startup or proven organization. As one might expect, they are the highest-paying jobs in agriculture. C-Suite roles include such titles as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), etc. To learn more about C-Suite Executive careers in agriculture, click on the following links to career profiles:
Jennifer Badger works as Agricultural Marketing Specialist for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture in Columbia. She has been in this role for nearly a year, but she has been working in agricultural marketing since August 2012. In this interview, she shares a bit about her career path as well as advice for young ag marketing professionals.
What made you interested in this career path?
I became interested in this career path in high school while taking marketing and agricultural vocational classes. I was very involved at my local Brevard, NC FFA chapter so upon graduation I left to study Agricultural Business Management at North Carolina State University. Marketing came more naturally to me than accounting or economics, which were also parts of my business degree, but that fact coupled with my involvement on the yearbook staff at the high school and collegiate levels, I just enjoy the communication and marketing side of ag business more. These subjects along with agricultural science classes are all very important to my current job, but I really enjoy the personal connections that ag marketing establishes.
In 2017, business majors and graduates are looking for ways to increase their earnings. They want to go into their field knowing that they will build a career worthy of the work that they put in. But, they need not worry. There are plenty of options out there.
Those that have a master’s degree in business administration – also known as an MBA – have several careers to choose from. All of these options currently pay their workers a high wage. As a result, people who are still looking at business careers can definitely boost their salary.
Guest Blogger: Christine Kilbride, ChickMaster
‘Tis the season…for college applications! Many high school seniors are currently navigating the grueling college admissions process: writing essays, requesting recommendation letters, deciding where to apply and choosing a major.
Choosing a major may seem like the least daunting task on the list – you can always change it, right? Well technically you can, but changing academic majors can lead to costly extra semesters or even the need to transfer to another school.
So where should you start? Statistically, the most popular majors include Nursing, Education, Business, Psychology and Communications. If none of those options appeal to you – don’t fret; there’s a growing sector that you may not have considered for your future career: agriculture. And particularly, poultry science.