I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season full of love and laughter. I also hope you all are weathering this cold, wintery burst of weather that has stormed down on us (at least in my area). I know life gets harder when its cold and snowy outside!
A few days ago, the high school girl that milks at the same dairy I do shared with me that she got accepted into The Ohio State University, of which I am a proud and unwavering alum. Needless to say I was so, so excited for her especially upon hearing that her intended major was Animal Sciences, the same as mine was.
It got me thinking about the moment I was in her shoes, almost 6 years ago now. The feelings I felt, and the first experiences I had on campus. The whirlwind of memories and regrets, tough times and laughter, late nights studying and late nights out with friends and peers. It led to thoughts of what I might do different or change, but also what I did that turned into something great. So, I wanted to share with you my top 10 list of things every agriculture majoring first year going into college should know.
- You’ll hear this so many times that you could chant it in your sleep, but it rings so true: get involved in student organizations. Not only is it important to build your resume, but it goes a little deeper than that. I’ve learned firsthand that you never know what future opportunities you will come across, and thus you never know what the qualifications will be. The variety you’ve got on your resume means you could check off the qualifications that much easier. The only thing I would caution is not getting yourself in over your head. Spreading yourself too thin may translate to not being able to put in your full effort and attention to a role you may be elected to.
- Allow yourself time to have some fun. I’m by no means condoning putting yourself or others at risk, or engaging in illegal activity. Don’t spend your whole college career holed up in your room cracking the books. Firstly, it can quite literally drive you insane. Secondly, establishing friendships and relationships with peers is important not only on a personal level, but you never know when you will be able to network with these same people in a professional way! And lastly, the best memories aren’t made in front of your General Chemistry textbook. 🙂
- Sort of in conjunction with the previous point, keep an open mind. I mean this both in your career and your personal life. Going to a big school in a big city means you will come across people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. The amount of life lessons you can learn from those different from you is unfathomable. These also build some of the best friendships, or even intimate relationships! You meet the best people and the worst people, and it teaches you how to handle others in similar situations along the way in your life. As far as your career, the number of students who end up changing their major entirely, or changing their career path within the same major is astounding. It’s okay to change. College is where you get the most exposure to what you think you’re most impassioned about and figure out whether you need to take a different route or not. While you most definitely need to be determined and tough about what you want, be open to exploring other avenues as well. You never know what you will stumble into. I had a friend who changed her major 4 different times. I myself started out with the goal of being a large animal veterinarian, and currently am in the process of becoming an independent consultant for an animal nutrition company. Not a huge change, but keeping an open mind allowed me to see what I was truly passionate about.
- Take opportunities. This not only includes getting involved in student organizations, but also any other opportunities your college may offer. Study abroads, university ambassadorship for companies, university teams, university theatrical or musical organizations, the list can go on and on. Once again, you never know the people you will meet or the skills you will develop.
- Study however suits you, but do not procrastinate on the important deadlines. I’m talking about things like scholarship/financial aid applications and job or internship applications. Those things are stressful enough as they usually require a lot of time and information, sometimes documents of proof, but in addition to studying for exams or writing papers, you do not want that pressure. Try your best to organize your time and give yourself enough time before deadlines to complete everything.
- Establish friendly, professional relationships with your professors and other university staff, especially within your major’s department. These staff members and professors can not only serve as resources for educational avenue and career advice, but they can also provide great letters of recommendation or even be references on job/internship applications.
- Take advantage of the free university services. I’m especially talking about services such as the student success centers and core class tutoring labs. The success centers provide a variety of services, including resume and interviewing tips.
- Earn and obtain as many certifications and training as you can. Certificates are proof of training or skills you possess, and these are priceless jewels to add sparkle to your resume. Some animal science production classes offer training and even certification in livestock breeding or quality assurance and handling. Furthermore, you’ll learn of off campus training or certification programs through university extensions and other agricultural organizations.
- Attend as many guest speaker events as you can. This is a great way to learn about the company the speaker works for and the position the person holds within that company as well as how they got there. This could give you more insight into what you would like to do or not do, as well as the opportunity to talk with that person.
- Pick some fun classes! There are usually elective credit hours to be filled, so why not take History of Rock and Roll? You need something to look forward to during the week and have some time for a mental break!
I hope these tips are useful to someone out there, if I had known them before my journey through college, I think I would have made better use of my time. But, as they always say, hindsight is 20/20.
Stay warm and toasty!