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.”
The resume-worthy skills members gain include public-speaking FFA experience, teamwork, recordkeeping, volunteerism and community service. Ellis reminds those who earned their American FFA Degree to add that as a prestigious accomplishment on their resume.
Another valuable tool for tapping into that network is the National FFA LinkedIn page. It includes job posts from countless corporate sponsors as well as career opportunities specifically within FFA, whether they are full-time jobs or one of the many facilitator positions. Right now, for example, there are WLC staff openings, and state officer programs are currently hiring facilitators for the next year.
Ellis strongly encourages FFA Alumni to get back in touch with FFA. Go to FFA.org/CheckIn to reconnect with the FFA community and get in the loop of what’s happening in the program. And, don’t forget the value of volunteering. The service to others benefits job seekers as well.
“If you haven’t been volunteering at the local, state or national levels, that’s a good way to reconnect and start a cadence of communication with FFA,” Ellis says. “Again, it also provides you that ‘volunteer’ opportunity to add to your resume.”
Even if they are not in a financial position to volunteer dollars, former members can donate their time.
“We’re always looking for volunteers who can share their time, talent and resources; it doesn’t have to be your dollars,” Ellis adds. “Plus, it provides that ‘community service’ line on your resume and another networking opportunity for you.”
Additionally, she says there are 25 corporate alumni and supporter chapters that are specifically looking for FFA Alumni to come work for them. “They’re another group that says, ‘We support FFA, and we want to have FFA members as our future employees because they see the leadership skills it provides.’”
Former FFA members should also watch the job boards of corporate donors. These companies have given to FFA because they know the caliber of future employees FFA members become and the value of the FFA experience.
Former ag advisors (high school or college) are also helpful. Ellis says these instructors are usually well-connected within their communities and local agriculture. They are glad to share news of job openings and assist with career placement.
A prime opportunity not to be missed is the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo, which runs Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. Alumni can meet and share their resumes with countless corporate sponsors as well as business and college recruiters.
“There will be all kinds of companies at the convention, not just ag businesses. It’s a great place — all under one roof — to be able to network and see what different career options are out there,” says Ellis.
To learn more about the National Convention and Expo and other alumni opportunities as well as more ways to expand your FFA experience, visit FFA.org.
Guest Blog Post by Jami Stall