It goes without saying that graduate programs can be difficult. You’re past learning about the basics, and now you’re finally digging into the nitty gritty details, the important research, and the current challenges of your field of study. No matter what you’re studying, here are five helpful tips to ease your journey through graduate school.
1. Work on your writing skills.
It doesn’t matter what you’re studying: You’re going to be writing. A lot.
When you write for your graduate program, you’ll often be presenting detailed, technical information, and it’s easy to get so caught up in the technical details that readability suffers. However, like every writer,you need to draft, revise, and proofread everything for both mistakes and flow. In addition to a thorough revision process, it can be helpful to have a friend proofread your writing to catch problems you may have missed. It may not feel like writing skills are part of your program of study, but the most important work you do will be presented as text. Make sure it reads well.
Today is National Teach Ag Day, and to celebrate the contribution and lasting effect that agricultural teachers and their lessons have on those they teach, members of the AgCareers.com team share meaningful experiences and memories of their own agricultural teachers and classes.
“I took agriculture all 4 years of high school, now looking back 14 years after graduation I realize that I learned not only technical skills but also soft skills, or employability skills, as I like to call them. I learned how to classify soil types, which believe it or not I’ve used a couple times in my life. I learned how to conduct a meeting using Roberts Rules of Order, which I wish every meeting was structured around, sadly it isn’t, but at least I get to practice my skills during church business meetings. Best of all I learned how to give oral reasons when talking in front of a group. I use that skill in my career, my marriage, and day to day life!
Guest Blogger, Jean Drasgow Director of Career Services at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Once you’ve felt the urge to advance your education, the next step is to figure out what type of program will best fit your lifestyle and long-term goals. Today, students have options. Deciding which option is best for you can be tough as they all come with some unique advantages.
Technology has been a game changer, allowing the classroom to come to the student. Not only could you (at least theoretically) take Master’s degree classes in your pajamas, online graduate programs offer great versatility and can be a great choice for those who need to also work full-time jobs or raise their families. While online programs do not require students to uproot their lives and move to a college town, a potential downside could be a limited opportunity for personal networking and relationship building (unless this is built into the program).
Congrats! You’ve just been hired. You found your career move on AgCareers.com! You think the hard part is over – and you realize that you have been handed a packet of “required forms” your new employer needs, like now! The good news, it only takes a few minutes to complete the forms, if you understand what they are for, I can help with that!
Here is a better understanding of the way employers utilize the personal information you give to them on these forms.
As a woman who grew up knowing I wanted to be a part of the agricultural industry, I never looked at myself and thought I was limited because of my gender. I never even saw agriculture as necessarily male-dominated or as a field where I couldn’t work alongside my male counterparts as equals. I loaded cattle onto a trailer and shoveled manure alongside my parents, my sister and my brothers; I led, volunteered and competed with young women and men in my high school FFA chapter; and today I partner with working men and women throughout North America in my role with AgCareers.com. I have simply always seen myself working as an individual every day to better the world somehow through my efforts, and agriculture seemed like a fulfilling and fun way for me to do just that.
It was only during a persuasion course during my pursuit of my undergraduate degree that I was opened to the generalization (arguably fact) that men are often better compensated for their work than women. Agriculture was one of the mentioned industries during that day’s study.
Callista Gould, a certified etiquette instructor with the Culture and Manners Institute, was a special guest for Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Summer Intern Program this past May. She taught and shared proper etiquette to interns who are working in the Ames, Iowa area this summer.
Professional networking is a skill you can’t live without in today’s business world. Knowing how to effectively and appropriately talk to future employers, clients, coworkers and other professionals at any event will help you make connections.
Start with the basics. When introducing yourself, make sure your handshake is firm. Firm does not mean squeeze the other person’s hand so tightly that they are put-off. A firm handshake is a good grasp that shows you are confident and present in the conversation. Confidence is key, which is shown by good posture: shoulders back. Also, if there are name tags, put yours on your right shoulder. Many networking events also involve food and beverage. If you are carrying a drink, hold it in your left hand to shake with your right hand (no one wants a wet handshake).
Carolyn Lee is AgCareers.com’s Account Manager for Western Canada. She covers the west coast of Canada through Saskatchewan. Carolyn also manages partnership clients in the upper Midwest United States and handles Compensation Benchmark Review (CBR) sales in Canada. She has been with AgCareers.com for just over four years and works out of the Guelph, Ontario office.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
My day consists of being on the phone quite a bit, usually with our partner clients or smaller companies who sign up on the site from Western Canada. I maintain optimum customer service for all of our clients, whether by phone or email. I also spend time corresponding with our team members, especially Beth [Hales, Director of Client Relations for AgCareers.com]. Even though I also take care of CBR sales in Canada, once it’s completed, I usually pass it on to Mary [Barefoot, Director of HR Services].
What do you enjoy most about working with AgCareers.com?
It’s a very satisfying job in that I enjoy working with our partnership clients. They post all of their jobs on our site. When I hear how many people they do hire or interview through our site, it’s rewarding to really know that that’s what we do and that we deliver that service. Sometimes we’re only posting one job with the other clients, and they don’t necessarily give that feedback. I build relationships with our partnership clients and we get that feedback where I know how successful our program is for that client. Also, when I’m able to solve a technology problem, that’s pretty satisfying as well.
The blogosphere is filled with blogs offering free advice on anything from extreme sports to origami. When it comes to your career, it is important to find the best advice out there. I wanted to share a few of my favorite job search blogs that offer crucial, yet entertaining and insightful advice for your career advancement:
Career Hub blog features free advice from career experts. The blog was founded to connect job seekers with the best minds in career counseling. Contributors are experts in resume writing, career transition, personal branding, executive career campaigns, search strategies and more. Career Hub also offers free eBook downloads with trips, tricks and strategies for your search.
The Weddle’s WorkStrong blog is from Peter Weddle, former HR Consulting CEO, now full time writer and commentator of the world of work. Peter’s blog is a candid, completely honest discussion of the work world. The blog is based on his book The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams. Unlike many other career and job search books, it is designed specifically for the challenging workplace of the 21st Century.