If you participated in FFA in high school and are now seeking a job, or maybe a career change, you should leverage the power of your blue-jacket past. That FFA experience of yours can open millions of doors. Yes, millions.
“A lot of high school guidance counselors and other adults recommend that graduates exclude high school experiences on their resume, but we actually recommend they include FFA on their resumes,” says FFA Alumni Development Specialist Allie Ellis. “We have more than 8 million FFA alumni out there, so that is a huge networking connection for job seekers who were in FFA.”
On the flipside, countless former FFA members who now are hiring employers tend to recruit employees who have that shared background, according to Ellis. “They know the leadership skills and experience FFA provides students, so they seek them out for their companies,” she says.
FFA has noticed a measurable rise in non-ag companies becoming corporate sponsors and an increase in corporate alumni and supporter chapters as well. Ellis says that is because they know FFA members are exemplary from other high school students. “We’re providing the next generation of leaders in the world, and it’s not just in the agriculture field — it’s all over the world and in all sorts of different careers. Companies are well aware of that.”
Over the years, I have both been afforded opportunities personally and also observed the internal dilemma caused to young people when faced with the decision of relocation. It can be difficult. How do you weigh the pros and cons? What concessions must I make in order to ultimately get where I want? What if I turn the opportunity down?
These are all questions we either have or will face on our career journey. As I have taken my own steps and engaged in countless conversations on the topic of relocation, I have whittled my advice for a young person weighing options down to four steps.
Step one is to say, “Yes.” That’s my ultimate advice to a young person wishing to catapult their career, either straight out of college or along the way. You don’t have to compromise your long-term aspirations, but I guarantee your long-term options will be much reduced if “yes” is not part of your vocabulary.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard career professionals give advice to college students that if they really want to have a meaningful career, you have to be willing to say, yes. Say, “Yes,” to new job responsibilities. Say, “Yes,” to a new role. Say, “Yes,” to relocation. In all cases, you show a willingness to stretch yourself. That puts you in a better position to:
Agriculture has a range of opportunities for all different education levels. For some, heading straight into the workforce after graduating high school is the best option. Others may need a bachelor’s degree from a university to achieve their career goals. But if the best fit for you is to spend two years acquiring an associates degree, there are still plenty of suitable jobs in the agriculture industry. Here are five rewarding agriculture jobs that only require a two-year degree.
1. Grain Buyer
With an average annual salary just below $64,000, you can make an honest living as a Grain Buyer. A Grain Buyer would require strong interpersonal skills because they spend a lot of time building relationships with farmers. Companies will hire a Grain Buyer to negotiate grain prices and coordinate deliveries. The best part is, this career only requires an associates degree in agriculture business.
2. Construction Foreman
An associates degree gives you the upper hand with this career, and on average a Construction Foreman makes well over $62,000. They aid in building multiple different agriculture buildings while demonstrating strong leadership skills in order to lead the rest of the team into a completed project. If you’re looking to pursue this career, a two-year program in carpentry, construction, equipment operation, power technology or building systems will put you on the right track.
Summer is half over. Have you done everything you can to get the most out of your internship or work experience? If you can’t answer that question with a resounding “YES,” here are some ideas to assure you end your experience in a way that fully maximizes the opportunity. Your employer will organize your work and get you up to speed on your job and the organization, but it is up to you to take the appropriate initiative to get as much out of your work experience as possible.
Communicate your reason for choosing your current work experience to your supervisor, mentors and others. Talk with them about what you hope to get out of it, how you hope to grow and how that connects to your career goals. This conversation is critical to their ability to help you achieve those goals and give you feedback on your growth along the way.
Not sure you can communicate this in a concise way? Take a few minutes to define the objective of your experience. If you were to write a mission statement for your time in the experience, what would it say? Conduct a SWOT analysis to help you think through this process.
Trust me, I know the nine months out of the year spent frantically fighting exhaustion while keeping up with classwork, extracurriculars, and attempting to have a social life make summer seem like a relaxing breath of fresh air. But if your goal is to actually be prepared for a full-time career, you might want to rethink spending your free time hanging by pool and eating popsicles. While I still encourage some fun in the sun, career preparation shouldn’t stop simply because the weather’s warmer. Internships are a crucial part in giving you a step up on the job hunt ladder after graduation. Here’s why you need an internship:
When employers see an internship (or multiple) on your resume, it counts as a big gold star in your favor. Not only do they show your initiative and drive to succeed, but internships give you hands-on experience in your field of study. You will undoubtedly be forced to apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations, just like a full-time position. As a bonus, these real-world experiences will make for great supporting arguments while responding to questions in an interview!
Process of Elimination
When asked why internships are important, Bonnie Johnson, AgCareers.com Marketing Associate, responded, “What do you really want to do after you graduate? Agricultural interns tell us that one of the top reasons they take internships is to develop insight into what they might want to do for a full-time career after graduation. You may have your heart set on working on a farm, or alternatively in an office– try both! It’s important to vary your internship experiences to determine the best fit for you.” You need an internship to give you the experience you need to make an educated choice while finding your perfect career.
They are the most important part of any job hunt. The first look employers get into who you are and what skills you bring to the table, and one of the only ways you will land an interview with your dream job. We’re talking about resumes and what can make or break you when your name is sitting in bold letters on an employers’ desk. Crafting a professional, concise resume that will get you an interview is no easy task. It may be difficult to narrow down your achievements onto a one-page, tell-all sheet, but what you leave off your resume is just as important as what is put on. Take this resume advice: here are some things to leave off and what to put on instead.
This piece of resume advice is for all the college students or recent grads out there. The general rule is to not have anything below a grade point average of a 3.0 visible on your resume, but there’s no need to get discouraged if you don’t meet this criterion. Kristine Penning, AgCareers.com Creative Marketing Specialist, advises, “skills are definitely more important [than GPA].” Employers want to ensure they are hiring someone with the right skill set, so try spending more time promoting yourself in other ways.
Starting a new position is both terrifying and exciting. There is an old movie quote that paraphrased goes something like, “Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad and it is what is in the middle that counts.” When it comes to starting a new job, there is a similar beginning, middle, and end. During the first 90 or so days on the job, you will go through an onboarding period that will help you get up and running in your new role. When it’s done well, the onboarding process will make you feel like you are being welcomed into a new community.
Think a moment about the different perspectives. Your new employer needs to convey both culture and structure to ensure you get on board quickly and know how to be successful. You as a new employee need to know who to turn to, how to get your questions answered and of course, how to be successful. Good onboarding can meet both of your needs.
In 2017, FFA alumna Beverley Flatt accepted a position as the content creation manager for Bayer Animal Health. She took a sabbatical from her 170-acre family farm in Nashville, TN, and moved to Monheim, Germany, for the role. Here, Flatt explains how FFA led her to a job with one of the largest agribusiness companies in the world and how you can pursue similar opportunities, too.
How did you become interested in agriculture?
I didn’t grow up in a farming family; my parents were high school teachers. In middle school, I babysat for a man who created spice mixtures for fast-food companies, and I thought it was the coolest job. He said that if I wanted a job like his, I needed to study food science. I signed up for agricultural education and was hooked.
How did your involvement in FFA shape your career path?
In college, I attended the State Presidents’ Conference in Washington, D.C. We had an audience in the White House, and I was selected to ask President George W. Bush a question. I asked, if he were in our position, what question would he ask? He said in seven years as president, he had never been asked that specific question and that great leaders ask great questions. After that, I thought about what careers would let me ask a lot of questions and ended up majoring in agricultural journalism.
Do you find yourself in a new full-time role, brimming with ambition, ready to take on the world but desperately in need of a plan for your career path ahead? The steps below can be a good starting point for those who want to map out their career path or those who would like to proactively find ways to stimulate growth and retention of great employees.
Recognize that everyone has their own list of duties and responsibilities. So even the best supervisors can’t commit as much time as they would like to your development. You have to take ownership of your career path discussions – based on your own interests and planning – and not rely on someone else to start the conversation.
Before you have any discussions with your supervisor, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Assess which career paths within the organization interest you. Compare your perceived weaknesses with skills needed in the positions you aspire to. Identify those top skills you believe you may need to work on in order to even be considered. Make an outline of this assessment – maybe a clean one after your messy brainstorm – to prepare you to have a clear and succinct conversation.
Every internship has its challenges. Luckily mine had nothing to do with the people or the culture of the company, just adapting to the indoor work environment. Last summer I spent 32 hours a week walking through fields, seven hours driving my pickup between locations and two hours in the office working on reports. This summer I have spent majority of my work hours behind two computer screens and only make it outside for my walk during my lunch break. Both extremes from my internships have taught me what paths I would like to take for my future career. Reflecting on my experiences, I have more to share. Here are some tips for internship success I have learned along the way:
• If you don’t like business professional and would rather wear jeans to work – then you need to search for an internship with that type of company culture. Don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s work attire and culture in an interview!