Looking to the Future

Posted: November 15, 2013

Frank talks about the opportunities to find a job at Ag Career Day, and shares some tips for success.

Fall is upon us, and so are prospective employers. Back in September was the University-wide career fair, which the majority of students go to, including new students just trying to improve their networking and interview skills, and upperclassmen on internship and job hunts. And as intimidating as an event with hundreds of professionals can be, it’s a little reassuring that they’re searching for employees just as hard as Penn Staters are looking for employment. And that’s not to mention The Wall Street Journal ranked Penn State the number one school among recruiters… again. We have a lot going for us, and with the future wide open for my fellow students and me, the Career Fair “season” is an exciting time.

While my fellow Ag Sci students certainly checked out the big Career Fair, our college, always striving a little further, hosted its own. On October 15, students and businesses were packed in the Bryce Jordan Center, looking for the perfect match. Romantic, really. An impressive 110 employers participated! Considering we have almost 2,000 University Park students in Ag Sciences, that’s about an excellent employer/student ratio. That’s insane! And did I mention that they were providing a free professional Penn State padfolios to the students who came? Maybe we’re a little spoiled, but I’m not complaining.

Curious how we students get ready for an event like the Ag Career Day?

1.      Update your resume. So much happens while you’re in college, it really is an effort to keep your resume at pace with what you’re doing.

2.      Research the businesses that are coming. Trust me, knowing a few details about an employer goes a long way; it shows you’re serious, it shows you care. Check out where they’re located. Maybe they’re from your hometown (several of the companies were from my area), and even a connection that simple helps. We have so many great faculty members here that know the people coming for Ag Career Day and other events (it’s often why they come), so don’t be afraid to ask your professors or the staff in Ag Admin – they’re always glad to help.

3.      Clean up and dress appropriately. I’d say your safest bet is business professional, but sometimes in the case of labor-intensive work for example, employers want to see students who look like they don’t mind getting dirty. Don’t just take my word though! There are a number of faculty members you could check with, but for dress or any question of how to prepare for such networking events…

4.      Schedule a meeting with our Coordinator of Experiential Learning and Career Services, Dr. Richard Rateau. He planned most of Ag Career Day, and to put it simply, he knows what’s up. For a little more info about him, check out my former fellow intern Jess’s post about him! (Hint, hint, she consulted with him to her full advantage, and has had a steady job after graduation.)

As I said, career fairs can be intimidating. But in the end, you have to remember the “scary” employers are real people, and if you’re real with them, with an Ag Sciences background, I’d say you have nothing to worry about.