Career fair makes networking easy

Nicole Ely/The News Tori Heddinger, junior from Mariah Hill, Ind., and Austin Reed, junior from Monticello, Ill., speak with agricultural company representatives.
Nicole Ely/The News Tori Heddinger, junior from Mariah Hill, Ind., and Austin Reed, junior from Monticello, Ill., speak with agricultural company representatives.

Nicole Ely/The News
Tori Heddinger, junior from Mariah Hill, Ind., and Austin Reed, junior from Monticello, Ill., speak with agricultural company representatives.

Networking is the first step in what, for some, can be a long journey to achieve their career goals.

Hutson School of Agriculture hosts an annual career fair for students interested in the agriculture field to aid in taking that first step.

“I’m just trying to get my name out,” said Mark Ledford, junior from Cadiz, Ky.

Ledford is studying agronomy – the study of plants’ use as fuel, land reclamation, for food and the technology needed for those purposes.

Networking was his goal while at the fair, where booths lined the Curris Center Large Ballroom Feb. 4.

Prospective employers waited to meet prospective employees.

“The traffic has been really good,” said Joe Ben Bogle, representative from Ag Connections, a crop-management software developer. “Everyone’s been more polished – not dragging when they come up.”

Bogle visits Murray State every year for the agriculture career fair, using the opportunity to build the hiring pool for his company.

He may not have positions to fill at the time of the fair every year, Bogle said, but handing in a resume keeps the door open for when one does. 

Sharit Spurill, with Perdue Agribusiness, not only had several full-time positions and internships to fill, but also hired six fresh graduates in the last few months.

The experience many companies look for wasn’t high on Spurill’s list.

A non-agriculture major wasn’t a deal-breaker either.

Instead, it was about what students’ interests were and the mentality they express during an interview, she said.

There are a variety of positions to fill, from human resources and marketing, to agriculture representatives, Spurill said. What’s most important is a student’s passion.

“When students come up we ask them what year they are and what their major is,” she said. “Just because they’re in agriculture doesn’t mean they’re interested in what they’d be doing for us. People will do what their passion is.”

Matching passions to jobs is the point of the fair, said Christy Watkins, recruitment coordinator for the Hutson School of Agriculture.

“(The fair) gives all students, freshmen to seniors, the opportunity to see what’s out there,” Watkins said. “A lot of the (employers) here are our graduates.”

The Agriculture Leadership Council has sponsored the fair once a year for about 25 years.

Watkins said the goal is to increase it to twice annually, but scheduling conflicts always prevent that from happening.

The agriculture career fair is catered to students in the Huston School of Agriculture, but the Agriculture Leadership Council works closely with Career Services to ensure all students have a variety of opportunities.

Employers also come and talk to classes individually, whether at the request of the Agriculture Leadership Council or on their own, and students are given further opportunities to network with companies.

Story by Amanda Grau, News Editor