The agricultural industry is an open field


Katie Herr/Iowa State Daily

The Ag and Life Sciences Career Day was held Oct. 15, 2013 at the Lied Rec Center. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students had the opportunity to meet with over fifty employers relating to agriculture and life sciences. 

Ali Luety

Summer internships are an integral part of students’ experience at Iowa State. Employers rave about the real-life experience students gain through short-term employment prior to graduation.

Laura Underwood, communications specialist at Farmers Cooperative Company, points out the benefits of internships.

“It gives you knowledge and experience,” Underwood said. “It gives you the ability to not only network with the company you work for, but their associates, vendors [and] farmers they interact with. You’re really able to grow as an individual rather than books and classes.”

Katie Birchfield, recruiting specialist for Seaboard Foods, realizes the importance of connections, especially in the agricultural industry.

“I actually do not have an agriculture background. I did not go to school at a land grant university. So how in the world did I end up in agriculture?” Birchfield asked. “It’s all about who I know.”

Internships provide great contacts for students, especially when looking for jobs. In order to obtain an internship without previous intern experience, Birchfield suggested getting involved on campus.

“One thing I love to see is if someone has been working and going to school,” Birchfield said. “That’s huge. Through those experiences you learn what you want to do.”

Ellen Hines, human resources manager at ALMACO, encourages students to show excitement about the internship they want.

“People get excited about that and they might even forgive some skill requirements if someone’s enthusiastic,” Hines said.

Hines also recommended that freshmen and sophomores attend the career fair if only to show interest in future employment.

“We remember [students from the past],” Hines said. “People like me are here every year for the career fair.”

Hines encouraged students to be confident at the career fair, with a firm handshake and genuine smile.

“We notice when people walk past the booth five times and then approach us,” Hines said.

Underwood, ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences graduate, believes that the Ag Career Day is one of the more inviting career fairs on campus.

“As an employer of this company, we are passionate about the next generation; the next generation of talent and farmers,” Underwood said. “We want to see you guys as students succeed. I say that on behalf of [Farmers Cooperative] but the whole industry.”

The door is wide open in the agricultural industry, with growing diverse opportunities.

“Whatever you want to do in agriculture right now, you can do it,” Underwood said. “It’s amazing to think how things have changed since I left ISU a couple of years ago.”

Underwood suggested that the Ag Career Day is special because so many ISU graduates are recruiting ISU students.

“[The] College of Agriculture and Life Sciences career fair has to be one of the most inviting career fairs,” Underwood said. “So many of us are ISU alumni. I look around here and see a lot of my classmates.”