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Agriculture job market sees demand increase

April 18, 2013

Graduates with degrees in agriculture always have been able to find work — people need to eat no matter what. Recently, however, the field has seen an increase in demand for jobs.

Increased demand has come to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, or CANR, as well. Jill Cords, a field career consultant with the college, noted upward trends in job fair attendance.

“We had an increase in employers at the career agriculture fair and an increase in day-after interviews,” Cords said.

Agricultural companies also are posting many openings to online career billboards, including myspartancareer.com, Cords said.

“In some cases, we have more postings than we have students applying for them,” she said.

According to a graduate destination survey published by the college, the average starting salary for 2011 graduates was $41,862 a year, with the highest earner taking in $95,000 a year. Agribusiness was the top industry hiring CANR graduates.

Cords, other CANR advisors and the Career Services Network educate students on the opportunities available to them in agricultural fields.

“We try to expose students to careers earlier,” Cords said.

Cords said she helps organize career-oriented initiatives including two agricultural career fairs a year, a bus trip to the Michigan Agri-Business Association Trade Show and smaller career exposure events focused on specific spheres of the field.

Sarah Campbell, who graduated MSU with a degree in agribusiness management in May 2012, has been working with agriculture ever since she grew up on a hog and cattle farm in St. Johns, Mich.

“I picked agribusiness because it is a very diverse degree — our major usually doesn’t have a problem finding a job after college,” Campbell said.

Campbell now works for Great Lakes Hybrids as a seed salesman. She said she has CANR friends who now work in various positions within agriculture — as farm credit agents, in commodity markets, as artificial cattle insemination technicians and writing for agricultural industry publications.

Elizabeth Wernette, an agricultural business management and animal science senior, will take a job with Purina Animal Nutrition after graduating this May. She interned twice with the company during the summer in college. Although the agricultural field is full of opportunities, Wernette said prospective employees still have to work hard to land job offers.

“With the larger companies you have to work to get noticed,” Wernette said. “I had networked (with Purina) in Michigan previously.”

Campbell agreed successfully entering into the field required effort.

“Be active — whether in clubs on campus, or having an internship or job,” she said. “In the big picture, it’s not about your GPA. It’s about managing your time, your experience.”

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