Today’s agriculture industry is truly a global network and as a job seeker if you have experienced agriculture around the world, you bring a coveted perspective to the workplace. This experience abroad could last for just a few months or a few years but the skills you gain could help you land your dream job back in North America. For me, that experience was serving as an AgriCorps Fellow in Ghana for a year supporting sustainable agricultural education development. Below are some special skills I acquired abroad and how to demonstrate these skills to employers.
• Resourcefulness: When I worked in a small office in Ghana, we didn’t have a Walmart or a closet full of office supplies to work with so I had to be resourceful when planning trainings and events. This skill in the U.S. might not be in the form of materials but a way of thinking. Being able to use who and what you know to develop a creative solution to a problem is a great asset to any job.
• Being a ‘dot connector’: In order to increase global awareness for 4-H clubs in Ghana and the U.S., I connected a club from my home state to begin a pen pal system with 4-H Ghana. Being able to connect the dots within your network helps create sustainable solutions to challenges and shows an employer the value you add in creating a network and solving problems.
• Adaptability: More than once we showed up to a 4-H advisor training, PowerPoint presentation in hand, only to find out the electricity was off for an indeterminate amount of time. Luckily I was able to adapt my lesson to cater to this obstacle and the training continued. Adaptability is important back home too- being able to think through the issue and quickly adapt is an essential skill in an industry that is influenced so much by weather, outside markets and other risks.
• Managing Partnerships: In my role as the 4-H Ghana liaison I had to strengthen the relationship between AgriCorps, 4-H Ghana and a variety of Ghanaian stakeholders. Building relationships through language and cultural barriers can be difficult but in the end provide you with a unique skill. Leveraging partnerships is especially important in agriculture and having experience with this in a global context gives you a leg up on the competition.
When talking to potential employers it’s important you have a specific story or example in mind for each of these skills. Another great way to highlight these skills is to create a digital portfolio of pictures and stories of your accomplishments overseas. Yes, these skills can be developed to some extent at home but I doubt many of your peers will have a story about transporting 100 cocoa seedlings for 3 hours on public transportation to start a school cocoa nursery in Ghana!
About AgriCorps: AgriCorps connects American agriculture professionals to the demand for experiential, school-based agricultural education in developing countries. To learn more visit www.agricorps.org.