On a weekly basis I am talking with international employers who would like to hire Americans and Canadians to help take their farms or agriculture operations to the next level. They are constantly looking at us as the innovators of agriculture, and need our expertise to compete in the growing markets. For example, US ag exports have grown tremendously over the years because of our increase in precision agriculture, research, and economists looking ahead to future demands. From 1931 to now the yield per acre of corn has grown from 24 bushels to 154 bushels.
In October at the National FFA Convention, our President, Eric Spell, was a speaker at a breakfast held in conjunction with Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathway to Prosperity Project. In this presentation Eric said “American Ag not only feeds the world with food, we need to feed the world with talent!” I cannot agree more!
An industry friend looking into a career change and negotiating with an international company said that the reason he looked into international opportunities was because of the ability to make extra income and learn a new culture. “It is as much of an adventure as anything else,” he stated. He made a valuable point, in that he and his wife were at a point in their life where they could go, since this is not an opportunity for just anyone.
There are many high paying opportunities in the international agriculture markets. Many of them are not glamorous locations, but offer very glamorous benefits for taking a job internationally.
There is also a non-profit company that advertises their openings on AgCareers.com. Since 1963 and in 145 countries, ACDI/VOCA has empowered people in developing and transitional nations to succeed in the global economy. Based in Washington, D.C., ACDI/VOCA is a nonprofit international development organization that delivers technical and management assistance in agribusiness, financial services, enterprise development, community development and food security in order to promote broad-based economic growth and vibrant civil society. ACDI/VOCA currently has 79 projects in 39 countries and revenues of approximately $168 million. Check out their openings here!
Make sure when working with international companies that they are always paying you, and not the other way around. You should never have to pay a company to hold a spot, or make a deposit on housing, etc. Negotiate a prior trip to check out the company, your future employers, and the area you will be living. Above all, do your research on the culture! There are many books that teach you about the history and current culture of countries.
For those that may be at the start of your career there are great opportunities as well. Peter Thornton, the Assistant Director of International Marketing at NCDA said at the start of his career he took a volunteer position overseas teaching English in Thailand and found out there was many other opportunities for people like him with little competition. He later went to Singapore to work for a think tank in political issues. Peter said that there are going to be “defining moments in your life; and in the future they will separate you from your competition. It makes you look more aggressive, outgoing and understanding of world markets. It’s also a lot of fun.” Peter also said that he has the “best job in State Government.” I asked Peter what was one thing he would like to tell young professionals thinking about international opportunities and he said, “For me, it may just be inbred in me that this is something that I want to do, but once you start traveling you will never want to stop. And do it once before you start a family.” Peter’s ability to take a chance has him leading the International Marketing team at the NC Department of Agriculture. Even though he lives in the US now, he is constantly traveling to other countries throughout the year promoting the “Got to be NC” brand at tradeshows and to potential foreign buyers.
Whether you are in the beginning of your career and would like to jump start your resume to make you stand out from the competition, or towards the end of your career and would like to share your experienced knowledge with those who are willing to pay big bucks for it, take a risk and explore beyond your normal borders.