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On the job hunt? The agricultural industry can provide you with a meaningful career.

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As a rising senior in college, I will soon be tasked with the daunting responsibility of applying for jobs with the hopes of building a career. As a communication major, there are endless industries, companies and organizations that I could join in pursuit of accomplishing my goal of having a career that is meaningful and impactful. But where do I start? With so many opportunities, how do I narrow down my options to find the best fit?

There are a multitude of opening questions one could ask to begin their research. Where do I want to live? What are my passions? What experiences do I currently have that will benefit me long-term? While these are all fair starting points, I would like to focus on one that I believe holds the most weight – What do I want out of my career? While each individual’s expectations will be somewhat unique, there are general trends in society that have been summarized through research. Studies have been conducted to gauge the expectations and interests of recent college graduates to determine what they expect out of a career.

One research study, mentioned in this article, conducted an online survey that collected responses from nearly 60,000 undergraduate students from 320 universities across the United States. The study found that college graduates are interested in the following:

  • Job security is considered top priority and is rated as the #1 job attribute.
  • The next most important requirement is professional training and development.
  • Young people are more mobile and more interested in an international career with a company brand that is consistent over national borders but flexible enough to adapt to cultural preferences.
  • They want a clear opportunity for future growth.
  • Many want the chance to do something that is meaningful and the freedom to work where they’d like.

Are these findings similar to your expectations? I know I could get on board with them, which is why I have chosen a career within an industry that can meet these demands – agriculture.

Job security

It makes sense that job security tops the list. The argument as to why agricultural jobs have high job security can be very simple – food is needed for life; everyone eats. Consequently, there will always be a need for agriculture and the business associated with it. ‘Nough said, right? But let’s look into other figures…

Fortunately, unemployment numbers have decreased within recent years, but can this increase in employment be seen within the agricultural sector? A report released by the United States Department of Agriculture states, “During the next five years, U.S. college graduates will find good employment opportunities if they have expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or the environment. Between 2015 and 2020, we expect to see 57,900 average annual openings for graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees in those areas.”

USDA

Those numbers are comforting, but what if you don’t have a degree in one of those areas? The report goes on to state that of the 57,900 annual new openings, only 61 percent will be filled by individuals with degrees in food, agriculture and environmental sciences. So even if you don’t have a degree in these areas or come from a production agriculture background, there are still employment opportunities for you within the industry!

USDA 2

International travel

As someone who has studied abroad twice and loves to travel, I can totally relate to this expectation.  It is no secret that we live in a global market, and with the U.S. being a leading producer of agricultural products, agribusiness and the exportation of our commodities is essential to the U.S. and other countries. U.S. agricultural exports more than doubled from 2006 to 2014. Our top exporting countries include: China, Canada, Mexico and Japan.  Because agriculture has such a strong international market, the business behind the industry provides numerous opportunities to travel abroad.

Speaking of trade, some of you might have been hearing about Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA was signed by President Obama this past Monday, June 29. Its passage will open up more international markets for agricultural commodities, making this an even more opportune time to get involved with the industry.

*Want to learn more about TPA? Click here!

Clear opportunity for future growth

A career in agriculture is sure to aid in one’s growth, both personally and professionally. I believe we experience the most growth when we are challenged, forced to step outside of our comfort zone when dealing with adversity and challenges. The agriculture industry has been tasked to meet many demands that are quite challenging. Some popular ones include:

  • Increase food production to be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050.
  • At the same time of increasing production, we need to conserve and enhance our natural resources such as soil and water.
  • Improve nutrition and public health by providing a safe and affordable food supply.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of an industry that is always changing and finding solutions to world problems!

Pursuing a degree in agriculture might be intimidating to those who didn’t grow up on a farm or have production agriculture experience, but don’t let that deter you! There are many benefits to working in agriculture, and I am confident you can find your fit. If you need further convincing as to why you should join America’s largest industry, check out the articles below!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/01/31/cheat-sheet-highest-paying-degrees/22478439/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102691649

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