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Unique Opportunities Lead to Cool Careers

Unique Opportunities Lead to Cool Careers
The Tale of Two Ambassadors

Marybeth Farley and Emily Chappie are two professionals in the agricultural industry with careers that are frankly, pretty cool! However, they may not be what typically come to mind when you think about ag careers. They each carry out very different day-to-day schedules and activities, and their direct customers can be very different, yet they both work for the same company. On most days, nearly 1,700 miles separate these two professionals, but yet without one or the other, each one can have a difficult time doing their job. What is even more unique about the two is an opportunity they both shared that led them to where they are today.

Marybeth is a graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Horticultural and Urban Forestry. Emily is a graduate from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and Applied Economics. Both ladies were hard working students who knew that the key to developing successful careers would start with internships and professional development experiences in college.

While a full-time student, Marybeth held internships and part-time positions with Soil Born, Placer Land Trust, Marrone Bio Innovations, and Arcadia Biosciences. Emily interned with Cargill, taught fitness classes at Ohio State, conducted research for the agricultural economics department, served as an ambassador for the college, and was Director of Finance for the College Republicans on her campus. However, it was an experience they both shared a year before they graduated, when they first met. They each served on the 2010/2011 Ambassador Team.

The ambassador program is wrapping up its 9th year of employing students across North America to promote and its Partnership clients on their campuses. To date, nearly 60 different students have served as ambassadors on 42 different campuses. Each year, a team of ambassadors work independently on their campuses to ensure that their peers are aware of the website as a tool for finding and applying to internships and full time positions. The teams rarely meet face-to-face, and before tools like web conferencing and social media existed, many of these ambassadors only knew their teammates by name and possibly a photo.

Fast forward to graduation. Both ladies graduated in 2011 and were eager to start their careers. Both had used to look for opportunities but also understood the power of networking! Marybeth was encouraged, by a career counselor at UC Davis to apply for a role with a company who typically recruited from the University’s Engineering College but had a particular opening that required a biology/agricultural background. Emily was involved in an organization called AFA (Agriculture Future of America) where as a participant in their annual career fair, met a recruiter with, ironically, the same company to which Marybeth had been encouraged to apply. Both applied, interviewed, and accepted two very different careers with Union Pacific Railroad. Marybeth is based out of the West Coast office in Roseville, CA and Emily at Corporate Headquarters in Omaha, NE.

A few months into this new chapter for both, Marybeth noticed a familiar name in the company directory…..a fellow ambassador she had only knew via the many conference calls and email exchanges during their ambassadorship. Marybeth reached out and the two connected for lunch during a routine visit for Marybeth to the corporate offices in Omaha.

Marybeth’s title is Manager Engineer Operations Support. She spends her time covering a 13 state territory evaluating and making decisions regarding environmental situations that may stand in the way of transporting the wide variety of commodities the railroad is responsible for transporting on a daily basis. She has three to five contract crews working for her at all times to perform routine maintenance like herbicide application, mowing, pruning, and removing hazards from the railroad and vice versa in the communities the railroad passes through.

Emily is the Business Manager of Food & Refrigerated Products at Union Pacific. She manages all of the fresh potato and onion business, and large malt, barley, and bean accounts. She is responsible for understanding the markets she managers, ensuring excellent service all across the US for her customers, and securing new business opportunities.

Both former ambassadors agree that the experiences they had while serving as ambassador help them in their current roles. Emily shared, “a big portion of the ambassadorship required me to stand in front of clubs and organizations on campus and deliver a presentation about Giving those ‘pitches’ prepared her to be confident speaking in front of customers, industry associations, and fellow co-workers.”

Marybeth echoed that giving presentations helped prepare her for giving presentations in her career. While as an ambassador she spoke to groups about job opportunities and taught them how to use; now she gives presentations about weed control and teaches stakeholders how to report obstacles along the railroad….two very different platforms but applying the same skills. Additionally, she must communicate and work with various agencies such as Public Works, the Forest Service, Fire Departments and Environmental consultants. Being an Ambassador and communicating with partner companies prepared Marybeth for understanding the larger scope of a project and how to communicate with additional stakeholders like these agencies she now works with.

Another connection to their time as an ambassador is the customers they serve. As Ambassadors for, they also represent and get to know more about Partnership Clients. While before they dealt mainly with those company’s job opportunities, they now transport those company’s products.

Ashley Collins has managed the Ambassador program since its inception, and served as a campus ambassador herself. She shared that stories like Marybeth and Emily’s are not uncommon but it is the first time two ambassadors from the same team have gone to work for the same company. “It’s rewarding to see how many of the companies we work with at now employ our former ambassadors,” shared Collins. “While is a small group of full-time employees, we don’t always have full-time opportunities for our ambassadors within our company when they graduate, but we’re happy to share them with our clients and look forward to having them as peers in the industry!” added Collins.

To learn more about the Ambassador Program, watch this video with interviews from former ambassadors. Interested students should check out the open roles for the 2013/2014 school year by clicking here.