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FIGURING OUT “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?"
by Lauren Vann, Sales Support Coordinator, AgCareers.com
We have all heard the infamous question “So what are you going to do when you graduate?” Now how many of you actually know or knew before graduation what you really were going to do? If you were anything like me it took the week before you graduated to finally secure a job. My biggest frustration was deciding which sectors in agriculture to focus on.
I grew up on a farm, so I applied to jobs related to those commodities we grew. I had marketing internships, so I applied to marketing jobs. And the applying goes on and on where I eventually lost track of where my resume was.
Looking back I wish I had been given tips or a guide book so that I did not waste my energy elsewhere. Taking from my personal experiences, fellow graduates, and industry friends, I have developed a few tips on answering that infamous question.
• Focus on your agriculture personalities.
An example is wasting your energy applying to an animal production facility if you know that you wouldn’t like the smell, or applying to only desk jobs if you love the outdoors.
• Know your resume and what you are qualified to do.
If a job requires 3+ years of work experience that doesn’t mean your part-time college job is always relatable. If it is, you can explain that in your cover letter.
• Start exploring early.
Don't wait until you need an internship/summer work experience or a job to begin looking at possible career opportunities. Begin to learn about all of the options early and often.
Go to career fairs in your first year to learn about companies, jobs and organizations. Attend info sessions at club and organization meetings. Subscribe to or read online industry publications.
• Internships and summer work experiences!
If you are not graduating make sure you are applying for internships and summer work experiences. Make every effort to get as much experience as possible. Many summer work experiences help you get a feel for a sector without the long term commitment and could even result in a full-time position. If you enjoyed your internship/summer work experience(s) look for similar entry-level jobs.
• Look for trainee programs.
This requires you to plan ahead. Most programs have their selections of who they want to participate in their trainee program by December. Many companies have you work a certain amount of time in each department, which can help you see what you do and do not like, providing insight into what you might like to pursue.
• Temporary work assignments can provide sector insight.
If a company offers you a temporary assignment, or contract, look at it as a learning opportunity to see if you are a good fit in the sector or culture. Many companies like this approach for new grads to see if they are committed before providing full-time offers and benefits.
• Ask your peers.
Who better to gain insight from than your peers. Likely your friends have had the chance to interact with a variety of organizations. Ask which ones they were most impressed with and also those that they were not.
• Procrastination is your worst enemy.
You are competing with students all over Canada, do not sit back and let them take all the jobs while you say “I’ll start looking tomorrow.”
• Talk to your advisor or favorite professors.
They taught the hiring managers of today years ago and can help direct you to someone as an industry mentor. Having an industry mentor can help you find ways to network with industry leaders and help you when applying to jobs.
• Job shadowing can help you branch out to other sectors.
You may have at least one class assignment that requires you to job shadow, but you can utilize your professors’ connections and job shadow multiple companies and different roles within that company. It helps you network and learn from others in the industry.
• Post your resume in AgCareers.com’s resume database.
Many employers utilize this tool daily to find new hires without advertising their job. This can help you be approached by employers instead of approaching them.
• Look outside of your postal code.
Internships/summer work experiences or first jobs are a great way to test the boundaries and think outside of the box. Willingness to move to another region or province could make you very marketable.
Hopefully you can now take these tips to tackle your job search. Make sure you check out the AgCareers.com newsletter archives for additional tips.