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Career expert forecasts many open doors are in outlook for ag students
By DOUG SCHMITZ
Iowa Correspondent

AMES, Iowa — According to Iowa State University’s (ISU) No. 1 career expert, U.S. agriculture students have more opportunities than ever before to learn, locate and land their first job, especially in the coming ag employment climate change.

“(A) reduced number of students enrolling in agriculture curricula across the country created a less competitive environment for job seekers,” said Mike Gaul, director of ISU Ag Career Services, which saw agriculture college enrollment rise 15 percent this fall.

Gaul said several sectors of agriculture are also experiencing strong growth, which has lead to more job creation.

“This is one of the best job markets for both full-time and internships that we have experienced in years and I really hope students realize how good things are and embrace these opportunities,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest change Gaul said he has seen is the pending number of what he referred to as “boomers” that have the opportunity to retire in the next decade.

“(It) creates cause for concern for many companies and organizations,” he said. “A popular statement most career services offices are hearing these days from recruiters is “we need to get back on campus and build up our bench due to pending retirements.”

But that’s where the importance of promoting such career services comes into the picture for colleges of agriculture around the country, Gaul said.

One annual event that ISU utilizes to connect students with the current and future agricultural job market is its annual Ag Career Day, held on Oct. 26, and sponsored by the ISU Ag Career Services Office, the ISU Ag Council and the ISU Ag Business Club.

“There’s an old adage that states “word of mouth is your best means of advertisement” and that is very true with our event,” he said. “Many companies and organizations hear positive things about our Ag Career Day from colleagues and contact us directly for information on the event.

“We promote via numerous avenues, including classroom and club visits, our webpage, posters, direct e-mails to students, mailings to other academic institutions, newspaper advertisements and press releases from our Ag Communications office,” he said.

Other ways Gaul said he implements his office’s multiple goals include connecting students with industry and organizations for full-time and internship opportunities; providing an opportunity for students to grow personally and professionally; and establishing a campus presence for recruiters and exposing students – especially those who haven’t decided on a career within the many diverse areas in agriculture.

“As I interact with companies via industry visits, job postings or chance visits, I usually find a reason to promote the event – especially if I think they would be a good fit for our students,” he said.

This farm news was published in the Nov. 8, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

11/8/2006