While the U.S. unemployment figure hovers near 10%, colleges and universities are placing agriculture graduates into jobs at a higher rate than ever.
According to the USDA report Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Renewable Energy and the Environment, 2010–2015, there will be strong demand for agriculture degree graduates for the next three to five years. The study anticipates that 54,400 open positions will be generated each year but that only 29,300 students will graduate with agriculture-related degrees in those fields. The shortfall will likely be made up by students with degrees in biology, engineering, health sciences and business.
The latest placement data on agriculture graduates from Iowa State University’s (ISU) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences shows that 98.5% have jobs within a year of graduation and 76% of those with ag business degrees have a job in hand before graduation. “Job prospects still exist for graduates who truly apply themselves to the search,” says ISU career placement professional Mike Gaul.
Still, job seekers in 2011 will have to be well-prepared in order to compete. ISU career experts offer these tips:
- Network early and often. Those with work experience or internships should call on their contacts for help. Steve Kravinsky, director of career placement for ISU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says networking is still the No. 1 way to unearth opportunities because employers feel better about receiving recommendations from colleagues.
- Take it seriously. “Put time into the job search. Send multiple resumés because you can expect only a 10% to 15% response rate,” explains Kathy Wieland, program coordinator of ISU’s Business Career Services.
- Do your homework. “Students’ worst enemy is their own procrastination,” Kravinsky says. “One of their biggest mistakes students make today is not researching the company or organization before they interview.”
- Don’t let economic concerns get you down. Students are finding good jobs regardless of the ups and downs of the market.