U of S Agriculture Building. Image credit: https://facilities.usask.ca/
Welcome to University
It’s been a cool 20 years since I went off to University for an Agriculture degree, even if I don’t feel THAT old. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I started my years of undergraduate studies in agriculture. I was going to be a veterinarian. Spoiler, I’m not a veterinarian. I know things have changed. People claim, things aren’t as “fun” anymore, but I sure hope you will still have the some of the best times of your lives.
Seeing as my generation is now many of the people that will be recruiting and hiring you for summer and full time jobs, here are my nuggets of wisdom to pass on to enjoy your university years and maybe make a few inroads for your career down the line.
- Get to know your profs,TA’s and Lab Teachers. They are regular people like you and most of them love to talk about their field of expertise. It helps a long mile to get to know them before you miss a lab or fail a midterm. It happens. My first midterm in physics got me a whopping 28% and I was on full academic scholarship. I was smart, damn it. Which brings me my next point…
- Study, and if you’re like me and sailed through high school, learn how to study. My tips – review your notes after class (within a day or two). Get a study partner (or three) to talk through stuff you don’t get it. They also help when you do end up missing class with the inevitable 1st year flu (self induced or viral). Cooperate to graduate was the tag line when I was in uni.
- Meet your upperclassmen. They are a godsend in knowing the ins and outs of the program. Hello, old notes/midterm insights!! Never underestimate the valuable knowledge of which classes, profs or labs to avoid to make life a bit easier.
- Be involved. Join your student’s association. Help fundraise. If you’re a U of S Agro, do the Bedpush, join the Rangeland Club, CAMA, or the Stockman’s Club. Do some rec sports, even if you’re colossally unskilled at them.
- Have some fun. As much as you may be stressing about top marks, very few people outside of academia will ask you what your mark was in Organic Chemistry. They want to see that you are a normal human and learned to be with people, be on an executive, deal with people and be social.
- Reach out to Ag professionals. If you’re interested in a career in plant biotech, animal health, research or any of the thousands of jobs in the Ag industry, don’t be afraid to reach out. DM someone on Twitter to pick their brain. If they live close by maybe ask to meet for bevvy or job shadow them. Yes, it can be a bit awkward to say, “Hey, I follow you on twitter, mind if we chat?” but most of us how are friendly and know it is to get a start and the value of network.
- Go to industry events. Learn about the hot topics in your area of interest. Maybe even go to some events you aren’t particularly interested in or know about. It may be refreshing to learn about dairy cows or organic hemp production or beekeeping. Again, meet people. Don’t be shy to ask about their job, possible opportunities or mentorships. Be bold. People hire people they know.
- And finally, don’t be afraid to fail. As I mentioned, I was going to be a veterinarian, if you had talked to me in first year. Turns out my back up plan to get an animal science degree and become a ruminant nutritionist (with a Master’s degree) was a way better idea. Hell, I even changed university after my first year. The University of British Columbia was my first stop and I transferred to the University of Saskatchewan for for the rest of my years. Was UBC the wrong choice? Maybe seeing as there were 3 farm kids in a class of 200 Aggies, but I met my best friend on day 1 of orientation and we still are besties 20 years later. I failed that first physics midterm of mine, but it sure woke me up to study more effectively (not more, better). I applied for 40 jobs in my 2nd year of university for summer and got 1 interview and bombed it, big time. From this I went onto work overseas for what was one of my most formative work experience of my career. Failure is part of the process. I have friends that failed a class, some even that had to withdraw for a year to come back to university wiser and more focus. Fail. Learn. Improve.
- Welcome class of 2022 to the best years of your life and to an industry with amazing people and unlimited potential. Grow on Agros, grow on.