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The Job Shadowing Experience

TAGS: Management


In some of my recent columns I have been a bit critical of the educational system and today’s young people. I guess it must be that I am getting old and grouchy, and not playing enough basketball!

The other day I received an e-mail from an individual who works as a loan officer at AgStar Financial Services. Each year, I conduct a number of programs for AgStar that draw in energetic participants, which I respect because many of them are lifelong learners. This year a younger participant was in the audience for the day because he was involved in a job shadowing experience with a loan officer. Of course, as many of you know, I tend to put the younger folks under a little pressure to make sure they are following along, and have them recite what they learned to the group afterwards.

The particular young person to whom I am referring was a star pupil that day. His nonverbal communication during my presentation would make any parent or teacher very proud. After my talk, in front of everyone in attendance, he said he had learned that you have to save money like it is your financial parachute in case of emergency, both for your business and personal financial situation. His command and presence in front of the group was exceptional.

He actually wrote a report about his job shadowing that day, summarizing what he had learned. In a copy of his report he presented in class, he told how the loan officer cared about individual customers, and when they were on a farm call, good listening and communication skills were very important. Another point he picked up while job shadowing was that the loan officer came out to the farm so the producer did not have to travel to his office. He discussed how the loan officer educates his customers on their financials, offers them the best financial choices, and actually personally invited them to my seminar.

It was interesting that this student enjoys math and working independently. He enjoyed the job shadowing experience because every day is different for a loan officer. His goal now is to become a loan officer, and build upon the skills he observed in the job shadowing experience.

The bottom line is that I encourage young people to job shadow the best in the field. It is quite obvious that this AgStar loan officer was a great example. Another important aspect that the young person learned that day is that ag lending involves much more than interest rates, a lesson I hope he never forgets.

Yes, Virginia, there is hope in the future of education. The academic-industry linkage portrayed by this job shadowing experience is a vital component of the future of education.


Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at

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