Ag-Bio event provides network

Tammie Tamara

Tammie TamaraSection Editor

Ag-Bio Career Days is happening this Wednesday in the Volstorff Ballroom of the student union and will feature 42 companies coming to talk to students about internship and job possibilities.

“The big advantage (to Ag-Bio Career Days) is an opportunity to very conveniently explore career possibilities with a broad representation of potential employers,” said Tim Nichols, assistant director of academic programming for the Ag-Bio College.

“It’s a lot easier than looking at the phone book and pounding the pavement. You get a chance for face-to-face interaction.”

The companies represented span the range of ag-bio sciences, he said.

They hail from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, California and even Washington, D.C.

Many students are able to nail a job or an internship through Career Days.

“We have a number of students who find their internships and jobs through the fair every year,” he said.

The fair also benefits underclassmen.

“It creates a real awareness for students, for the freshman and sophomore levels, too,” he said. “They can talk to employers about what they’re looking for.”

Senior ag business/ag journalism major Rachel Mehlhaf agreed.

“As freshmen, it’s important to come and see what kind of opportunities there are and to make relationships with the companies,” she said.

As president of the Ag-Bio Prexy Council, she has been involved with publicizing the event. She has attended it numerous times with positive results.

“I’ve had success there. I got offered an internship,” she said.

Naturally, she’ll be there this year.

“There’s a few people I want to talk to, but I don’t graduate ’til May, so I’m not too worried yet. I just want to see what my options are.”

Cargill, Inc., one of the largest food companies in the world, will attest to that.

“Cargill and Sunny Fresh Foods, a subsidiary of Cargill, both value the long relationship established with South Dakota State University,” said Peggy Nylin, Cargill’s campus coordinator. “It’s much easier recruiting at a university where students seek us out.”

The fair provides students with the chance to start networking with people in the business, she said.

Another business that will be at Wednesday’s fair is the United States Department of Agriculture.

Marlene Elko, human resources manager, listed several qualities they look for in potential employees, including communication, organization, teamwork, computer skills, above-average grades and the ability to handle conflict and multiple priorities.

“Because our agency works with producers, a farm background is helpful,” she said.

USDA features a Student Career Experience Program, in which students work part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer, as well as a career intern program, in which students are assigned to a field support office in the state.

USDA has found the fair a worthwhile event to attend. “Our agency has been very successful in our recruitment efforts through this fair,” Elko said.

Ag-Bio Career Days runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday in the Volstorff Ballroom. It is open to any student, Nichols said.

“While we design it with ag-bio students in mind, and certainly employers are targeted toward those disciplines, it is open to the entire campus,” he said.

“Some of the these companies employ all kinds of different people.”