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Career Advice From A Wise Penn State Ag College Kid

Career Advice From A Wise Penn State Ag College Kid
Persistent networking and experience-building paid off big time for this Penn State ag college student

Ag Career Day pays off big time for student

Bretton Sutton already knows the "Early bird catches the best worms". And, the Penn State University senior from Ambridge, Pa., has caught a number of them – no, not worms – multiple summer internships plus a job offer for when he graduates with his ag systems management degree.

Sutton participated at last week's College of Ag Sciences Career Day – as a volunteer, not as a job seeker. He's already nailed down a good job in part because he started attending the job fair as a freshman, and never missed one.

NETWORKING PAID OFF: "I started contacting the companies met at the career days from previous years," says Sutton. "I found I had grown a [good] reputation."

While coming from a three-generation farm background, the farm "dissolved" with development – along with his opportunity to return to a family farm. None the less, "I've always wanted to be in agriculture. It's what I want to do," he emphasizes.

Close to 200 representatives participated in the college career day from more than 130 industry and government employers plus higher education institutions from across the country. Sutton discovered firsthand that it was an excellent networking opportunity.

Building on networking success

"The first time I went, I was a freshman," he explains. "I spoke with as many companies as I could, and ended up receiving an internship offer, which I later accepted.

"The next year I went back, eager as ever. That second year was amazing; people remembered me and I felt like I already had my foot in the door."

Sutton ended up with multiple internship offers during his sophomore year. The one he eventually selected ended up being the perfect choice. "After that summer, the company asked me to come back for a second year. I didn't hesitate to say 'yes'."

By his senior year, Sutton was searching for a full-time job. His experience proved crucial to finding the perfect opportunity. "Companies that didn't even attend the career day knew about me and were interested.

"I ended up having on-site interviews with three of the top agricultural companies in the world. I accepted the best offer and now am proud to say I've been hired by an amazing company."

Tips and lessons learned
Whether you're in college or searching for an ag industry job, consider these tips:

•Attend job fairs/ industry events: Networking at key events helps open doors of opportunity. As Sutton says: "Just go. The biggest tip I can give is to be there. It's never too late to start thinking about the future."

•Preparation is huge: "Know who is going to be there," he adds. Research in advance what employers or companies will be attending, as well as what you can find out about the businesses. "Know what they specialize in, what their values are and why you want to work for them. This will help you build your case as to why they should hire you."

•Construct a resume: Build it around the experience that you can offer an employer. A concise resume is just as vital as a positive attitude, good eye contact and a friendly handshake.

•Make contact, relax and shine: Once you've done all your preparation, "it's your time to show it," he advises. When you talk to recruiters, just let it be natural."
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