Hindsight is 20/20 By Kristi Sproul, AgCareers.com Education and Recruitment Marketing Specialist
When I set off for college the best advice my sisters gave me was, “You don’t have to make all the mistakes on your own, you can learn from others’ mistakes as well.” While my college years weren’t fault-free, at the time I felt like I had really checked all the boxes for collegiate success; internships, honor roll, scholarship recipient, and a job secured before graduation. However, as the expression goes “hindsight is 20/20,” meaning that when we look back we see what we could not see when we were in the past.
There will likely be no other time in your life that you have the freedom to explore outside of your comfort zone like you do while in college. With that in mind, here’s what I wish I would’ve known; consider this your opportunity to learn from others!
Take the internship 1,000 miles away.
It may seem scary and hard to imagine being so far away from what you’re familiar with- but what a cool opportunity! You get to experience another part of the country, likely on your employer’s dime, and it’s only temporary. We tend to grow the most when we are put in unfamiliar situations. I waited until graduate school to take the internship far away and realized then I should have done it a lot sooner!
Go to the career fair, even as a freshman.
Few organizations offer internships to freshman, so you may wonder if it’s even worth your time to attend the career fair. I promise you, it is. Approach the companies that interest you and ask them what type of things you can be doing as an underclassman to prepare yourself to be a competitive intern applicant when the time comes. Start building these relationships early and you’ll be remembered.
ADVICE FROM THE COMPANY:
“An internship is a key learning and growth opportunity that not only allows you to gain valuable experience that is directly related to your field of study, it exposes you to so many different roles in agriculture that can shape your future career endeavors. It’s a great chance to test drive a career path to see if it’s a fit for you, all while making important industry connections that can lead to full-time, permanent employment upon graduation.”
Theresa Bolton – Parrish & Heimbecker
“PRACTICE your elevator speech! When chatting with potential employers at a career fair, you have 90 seconds to make an impression. Don’t waste that time by asking what the company does. Don’t say ‘I’m only a freshman or I just switched majors.’ Take those 90 seconds to be memorable, starting with a firm handshake and telling us a little about yourself and your interest specifically in our company. At the end of a long recruiting day, the memorable impressions will be the lasting ones in recruiters’ minds.”
Deanna Flynn – Nutrien Ag Solutions, Inc.
Dress for class like you may meet your future boss.
You never know when a guest speaker will show up and be the contact you need to open doors for your future. Now, if you approach that speaker in your pajama pants and “beer pong champion” t-shirt you’re not going to be taken very seriously. I am not saying you must be in business casual attire every day, but at the least take a shower and put on an outfit that doesn’t double as sleepwear or gym wear.
Blow off summers are nice, but internships are better.
You’ve worked hard and spending a summer at the pool seems well deserved. Problem is, that time off is difficult to spin for a resume. The experiences you’ll have with an internship will be rewarding and will give you insight into your future career.
Your peers will eventually be your colleagues.
There will be people in college that you don’t click with and that’s okay. Remember, however, that agriculture is a small world. The likelihood of you having to interact with the people you went to college within the professional world is very high. Treat everyone with respect knowing that you may need their cooperation for a work-win in a few years.
Ask anyone who’s been in the working world for a while what they wish they would have known while in college and you’ll likely get a different answer from each. So, ask the question! Learn from others experiences to help make your journey successful.
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