Jessica Bartow joined the AgCareers.com team earlier this year as our Western US Talent Solutions Specialist. Jessica is based in a home office in California.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis in your role with AgCareers.com?
I help my clients with whatever they need – posting jobs, compensation data, registering for events, etc.
What do you enjoy about working with AgCareers.com?
I love the ag industry and am so thankful for the opportunity to help our industry leaders find and retain talent.
Okay, I confess…deep down, I may have some regret lingering about not jumping on the chance to work in Italy for two years when I graduated from college. That was a long time ago, but with big decisions like that, it’s always funny to think about how different my career path would have been if I’d have accepted that job and taken a gap year (or two). What made me say no? I worried about not being as relevant as my peers in the industry when I came back. I thought my experience wouldn’t be viewed as significant as those who got their foot in the door here first.
My decision back then wasn’t really about taking a “gap year” per se, but it was a big decision with some of the same potential ramifications. There’s quite a few people within my professional network who’ve made the decision to take time off and step away from their chosen career for a “gap year”. Sometimes it’s to find themselves or re-invent themselves professionally, while other times it may be related to their growing family. Regardless of the reason for doing it, taking time away is not something to rush into. Here are a few general things to consider if you’re thinking about stepping away for a bit:
Since a very young age, Clay Toews (husband of AgCareers.com Talent Solutions Sales Specialist, Kacey Toews) has had a strong passion for agriculture and livestock. He grew up going to sale barns across Kansas and ever since a young age, he knew he wanted to be an Auctioneer someday. Shortly after graduating High School, he pursued that passion and has been in the auction block ever since. He also gets the pleasure of serving many customers order buying livestock.
I have been a Livestock Auctioneer and Order Buyer since 2011.
Growing up in sale barns all over Kansas really spurred my passion for livestock and that way of life and I wanted to take part in the opportunity to bring stockman and buyers together behind the auction block and in front of it. I am lucky to be able to sell the animals and provide a service to my customers.
I have a 5-year-old that recently started kindergarten, to say that the alphabet is on my brain daily would be an understatement. Thought I’d bring a little of that alphabetical fun to our blog readers! Here is AgCareers.com’s suggestions for the career search from A to Z.
A: You’re kidding? AgCareers.com, of course!
B: Behavior based interview questions – know how to answer all parts: situation, action and result.
C: Cover Letter – make sure to craft a cover letter for each application and customize it for that role.
D: Decline – you might need to decline an offer. Do so in a polite manner. Remember, the agriculture industry is small!
AgCareers.com staff has seen and heard some truly cringe-worthy moments at the many on-campus career fairs that we attend every year. Our employer clients also share some bizarre career fair stories with us. The results of these employer-student interactions were less than impressive, so here are a few mistakes career fair attendees should avoid:
Parents! A college student took along their dad for moral support and to listen-in to their kid’s conversations with employers at a career fair. Even if your mom or dad is a “helicopter parent,” insist they stay away for the day. They won’t be able to join you on the job anyway!
Poor dress choices. Think about the power of first impressions. We’ve seen students who look like they just rolled out of bed with wrinkled jeans, mismatched socks, and a bad hair day, chewing gum and intent on their mobile phone. Dress appropriately for the professional atmosphere, not like you’re ready for a night out. Ensure you can bend over without embarrassment! Shoes are a common problem, so make sure yours are clean and comfortable. Practice wearing your new dress shoes before the fair; stay clear of too-high heels or platforms that make you stumble.
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.
The changing leaves brings in a new phase in recruitment, and that’s career fair season, and organizing internship opportunities for the coming spring. It may seem early, but if you need to secure an internship, summer job, or your make your first post-graduate career choice – the time is now. Most campuses are hosting career fairs in September-November each year, typically there is a different fair for each specific college. You should absolutely attend – even if you are returning to the farm this summer, it’s never too early to familiarize yourself with agricultural companies in your area. The companies have prepared, come early to set up their booths – and cannot wait to talk to excited and interested students – that’s why they are there! You have some preparations to make too – let’s take a look at how you can be the most impactful at the fair and how to approach employers properly.
Dress – The problem is that you’re usually going to go to their fair between classes. You probably don’t want to sit in class in polyester dress pants before darting off to the fair; but at least try to look professional. You don’t have to wear a suit, although some do. Even dark wash jeans with a nice top, or a blazer would set you apart from some of the other attendees. The number of students that we see at career fairs each year in Ugg boots, leggings, overly distressed, jeans, or work boots is sometimes overwhelming. It reflects badly on you and on your educational institution.
arrival of fall means football season is in full swing! Whether you’re spending Friday nights rooting for the hometown pride, Saturday’s on a college campus or playing armchair quarterback from your recliner for the NFL teams on Sunday, football season is a big deal to a lot of people! Some of our own AgCareers.com staff members are devout college football fans and during the fall you’ll most likely find them spending Saturdays at their alma mater hosting great tailgates and cheering loud!
Since 2006 my friends and I have hosted a tailgate at the same location of Oklahoma State Universities campus. Hosting a tailgate is no simple task; it takes a lot of planning to be executed successfully. While setting up the tailgate this past weekend I started thinking about how much great tailgates and great job interviews have in common.
Coordinating the menu, décor and entertainment for a tailgate takes some planning well before gameday. The same goes for job interview prep. Spend time prior to the interview researching the organization, practicing answers to commonly asked questions and learning more about the organizations industry.
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!
“Be on your best behavior!” Those familiar words from parents when you were starting a new school year or staying at a friend’s house for the first time. Most of us have times where we’d rather sleep in or we stayed out a little too late, but your first month on the job is crucial in your long-term success with the organization. Putting your best foot forward during the initial thirty days sets the tone with your employer, supervisors, and coworkers.
Hopefully, your new employer will communicate with you between your hiring and first day. It’s helpful if you can fill out the paperwork prior to your first day at work. The employer may share a company employee handbook and onboarding plan for your first few days or weeks on the job. These should be reviewed before you begin. Aim to understand the expectations for the first day, like company dress code, arrival time, lunch plans and more. If your new employer doesn’t readily share these details with you, ask!
Rushing in late every day and scurrying to your workspace won’t create the impression you desire. Likewise, packing up 15 minutes before your work day is done and running out the door a couple of minutes early will likely show your manager and peers that your level of commitment is low. Be settled and ready to work five minutes in advance and limit the urge to rush out the door when the clock strikes 5 pm (or whenever your work day ends).