The month of September can seem pretty hectic for students in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources planning to attend the CAFNR Career Fair. Many students see this as their only opportunity to get a summer internship or job.
Even freshmen can feel pressured to get an internship the summer after their first year of college, as many students graduate with one or more internships. This fall, CAFNR held its biggest career fair to date, with over 150 employers in attendance. Many faculty on campus and in CAFNR urge freshmen students, in addition to older students, to attend the career fair in hopes of connecting them with future employers.
“One of the many reasons we encourage freshmen to go to the career fair is to help build their network,” said Matt Arri, CAFNR coordinator of career services in the Office of Academic Programs.
As a freshman, this can be an intimidating task. Many freshmen worry that the outcome of the career fair will ultimately dictate their future success, but acquiring an internship is not the only benefit of attending the event. Meeting the professionals at the career fair will help them grow their professional contact list early in their college career. The career fair also helps students learn how to carry themselves in a professional environment they might not have been in before.
“It can be intimidating to walk into a career fair where there are 100 plus employers and you don’t know what you want to do yet,” said Jill Moreland, MU Agricultural and Applied Economics program director and advisor chair. “Maybe it’s not to try to land a job, maybe it’s just to learn how to talk to a professional.”
CAFNR alum Jaime Luke encourages students to step out of their comfort zones and go for it.
“Each internship allows students to learn and explore outside the classroom,” Luke said. “Having diverse experiences makes students well-rounded and better prepared to enter the workforce after graduation.”
Industry professionals often push many internships that will, in turn, lead to a position after graduation with their companies.
“They are investing in you early on in hopes that you will remain with their company and land a full-time job there,” Moreland said.
“The unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, which is the lowest this rate has been in close to 50 years,” Arri said. This is one of the major reasons students are pushed to obtain an internship while in college. According to a study conducted by CAFNR Career Services, 75.8 percent of the 621 graduates who participated in the study in the past three years have graduated with at least one internship.
Internships can benefit both the employee and the employer. The employee is able to see what the job entails and if it is what was expected. The employer has the opportunity to learn more about the student, his or her work ethic, and most importantly if the student is a good fit for the company.
While internships are encouraged, they are not the only option. Many choose a different route such as going back home to work on the farm or getting a summer campus job.
“I was able to network with numerous professors and incoming students, and I learned a great deal about opportunities available within CAFNR too,” Luke said. She spent her summer post freshman year working as a CAFNR Summer Welcome Peer Counselor.
CAFNR offers students ample connections to gain the experience they need before graduating and entering the industry. Students can set up an appointment to talk about career opportunities through https://cafnr.missouri.edu/cafnr-career-services/.