Job postings by employers received in the CFAES career services office increased in 2012 compared to 2011, said Adam Cahill, career development manager for CFAES. And the college is on pace to see continued gains so far in 2013, he said.

"We have always had high involvement from agribusiness and seed-based companies at our career expos," Cahill said. "Businesses see the value in our graduates which has kept them coming back every year.

"When we look at the fall semester interviews held at the college, 68% were from companies focused directly in seed industry and agribusiness sectors."

The college is also seeing an increase in company interaction with CFAES student organizations and in the classroom as guest speakers, he said.

"Companies like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, John Deere and numerous others have increased their presence and physical time on campus so that they can interact with and recruit students from multiple avenues outside of the traditional career fair," Cahill said.

Kristen Johnson agrees. She is one of four recruiters employed by Farm Credit Mid-America, a $19 billion agricultural lending cooperative providing farm and home financing to more than 100,000 agribusinesses, farmers and rural residents throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Farm Credit Mid-America recruits on campuses at more than two dozen colleges and universities that offer four-year degrees in agriculture across our four states, including CFAES, Johnson said, noting that there is "increased competition for the best and brightest" agriculture and natural resources graduates.

"There's been a substantial increase in the number of businesses participating in campus events seeking employees from agriculture's talent pool," she said. "A career fair that might have had 20 companies last year may have 60 this year.

"At the same time, those interested in agricultural careers are really stepping up to the plate. They're coming in with definitive career plans and have done their research on the companies at the event."

In response to the growing demand of the agricultural financing market, Farm Credit Mid-America experienced a 27% jump in employee numbers in the last three years, and expects to add more than 100 sales and customer support positions in 2013, Johnson said.

"That level of student professionalism is extending into our internships, too," she said. "This year, we'll add 40 interns to our program, up from just eight or 10 interns a few years ago.

"Like a lot of other companies, our intern program is an important part of our strategic hiring process and often leads to long-term careers and even leadership positions."

For Howell, the knowledge that she is graduating with a high-demand degree and the completion of two agriculture-related internships, allows her to feel confident in her short-term and long-term career prospects.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I know I've made the right job decision and I can't wait to start my new career."


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