November 24, 2007

My comments this week are basically directed at young people in agricultural colleges across the country, as well as parents of young people wondering about a future career for their children. I think the opportunities in the world of agriculture right now are unlimited.  As a matter of fact, it is estimated that this year and next year, and every year through 2010, there will be 52,000 job openings annually for students who have graduated with an agricultural degree.  That is why I tell young people today, “You just can’t dream big enough; you can’t imagine the opportunities that are out there, if you intend to pursue  a career in agriculture or agri-business.”

Earlier this month, I joined 400 agricultural college students in Kansas City at the 10th Annual Forum of the Agriculture Future of America.  It was another battery charging experience for me as I listened to these young people discuss their plans and goals. They were truly excited as they talked about the career paths they have chosen and the road map they have created to reach those goals. I didn’t hear anyone doubt for a moment that agriculture doesn’t have an unlimited horizon.

Where will these employment opportunities take them?...46% will be in management and business; 25% in science and engineering; 16% in agriculture and forestry production; and 13% in education, communications and government relations. One student told me she could very well end up in a career that isn’t even on the drawing board at the moment because research and technology are moving at such a fast pace.

One of the important ingredients for success in this area is securing an internship program with a company that is currently involved in agriculture or agribusiness.  An internship is invaluable because it gives students the opportunity to experience first-hand the challenges of the career they are pursuing in their college courses. I heard  students say that an internship reinforced their career choice, but I also heard a couple instances where career paths were changed after the hands-on experience. But all students said that an internship can very often open the door to a job interview at the company where they intern. Company executives attending the Forum agreed, stating they often hire graduates based on what they observed during their internship at the company.  

So parents, if your children are interested in pursuing an agriculture career, encourage them to pursue their dreams.  And to those of you in college currently doing that, again I say “You can’t dream big enough!”

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez!