When you go into an interview or are introducing yourself to a stranger, what do you say about yourself? Mine usually goes as so, “Hello, I’m Laura Finley a senior at UW-Madison where I am majoring in Life Sciences Communication with an emphasis in Dairy Science, which is long for Ag Marketing and Communications. I’m from Lake Mills, WI where I was fortunate enough to grow up on multiple different farms since my family actually doesn’t have a farm. I show dairy cattle at a state and national level and I am active within many organizations both on and off campus, mostly the Wisconsin Holstein Association, Badger Dairy Club and the UW-Madison Dairy Judging team.”
I’ve gotten this speech down pretty solid over the years with interviews for scholarships, internships and jobs. Most of what I have ever interviewed for had something related to agriculture, so my introduction was relevant enough to usually get someones attention. It’s not very common for someone who doesn’t have a farm to be so active within the industry, but as I said I was fortunate enough to be around people who let me grow up on their farms. So why am I giving you my background info? First, because having an agricultural background is something many employers value, in any industry. And second, because I feel many young people who are active within the Ag industry don’t emphasize it enough. This could be for many different reasons, but usually because their friends think they’re a hillbilly and have an absurd view of the Ag industry. Which is obviously a bunch of bull.
So here is why being a farm kid is actually going to help you succeed in life.
1) People know you’re hard working
When an employer sees you’ve had farm experience they usually assume you are hard working. Why? Well probably because farms are a lot of work! When you describe what you do on the farm don’t skim on the details. The littlest details that you may think are pointless to mention may show that you pay attention to details, which is a good quality to have! And the large responsibilities you have shows you can accomplish tasks successfully in a timely manner. For example, who here helped unload wagons and wagons and wagons of hay on a scolding hot summer day? I know I did. And to be honest, I don’t know if many could handle that kind of work, I would suggest it as a work out for the football team! But as I said before, it’s a large task with a short time frame which you helped get done!
2) You’ve proved you know team work
98% of farms in America are family owned, meaning when you work on a farm you are working with either your family or a family you know closely. And as many know, sometimes working with family is the hardest thing to do. But despite this challenge you learn to get along and work with each others personalities and learn what you expect from each other. This is one of the most important skills to take into a work environment and you’re lucky enough to have learned it, so use it!
3) They already assume you’re well connected
“It’s a small industry.” How many times have you heard this about the Ag industry? All. The. Time. And it’s because it’s true, although it’s an industry that feeds the world it is a very well connected industry. Which is obviously awesome! Being involved in this industry has given me friends all across North America and even some in Europe and Mexico and I’m sure this sounds familiar to many of you. The other awesome part of this is, when you meet someone new it is very likely they will know someone you know too, which makes a great channel for communication! Anyway, the point is, keep making those connections!
4)You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty
When it comes to backbreaking work, your employer is more than likely going to look at you for this. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because they know you’re reliable and because this is the kind of work that is going to stand out to your superiors. In today’s world it is, and don’t take this wrong, pathetic to look at the work ethic kids have today. Yes I know these are strong words but it’s a common theme in today’s society. No one is entitled to a good job, or a scholarship, or a raise, or really anything. You get these things through putting in your time doing the backbreaking work, so don’t expect to get out of this just because you’re not on the farm 24/7!
5) You understand respect
Farm kids know respect…for animals, for their elders, for the land and for themselves. Many would debate this because of their ill perceived views of animal agriculture. But when those animals are your livelihood their is nothing but respect for them and their products. Farmers know the importance of treating their animals and land with respect because they are hoping to pass their farm down to the next generation with hopes to only make it better for their family. Another way I look at it is through 4-H. Growing up on a farm you were more than likely involved in 4-H with crop and livestock projects. I don’t know about you but if I didn’t respect my project, it didn’t respect me. You gain a connection with your project, you learn to trust each other, you know what each other expect and you make a routine that is best for both of you. And if that doesn’t teach you respect for others and yourself, well I don’t know what will.
6) They assume you’re flexible
Because if you’re a farm kid you know your life at one point revolved around harvest or calving season or mechanical break downs, etc. etc. So when it comes to a “professional” working environment your supervisors may throw you a few more curve balls than others but that’s because they know you can handle it. So essentially, keep on rolling with the punches!
7) Everyone knows you will be a good time!
Pretty self-explanatory. When you work as hard as a farmer you also know the appropriate time to let loose. This is one thing the Ag industry has perfected; work hard, play hard!
So next time you are talking to a new acquaintance don’t forget about your background and be loud and proud!