Last week I attended Ag Careers Live in Birmingham, where I was privileged enough to work on the mentor’s corner and meet numerous young people keen to pursue careers in agriculture.
One thing that really struck me is the number of young people who – at the age of 18 (or sometimes even older) – do not know what they want to do for a living.
But maybe even more shocking is how scared or worried these young people are about the fact they don’t have a plan in place.
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My advice to those who were worried about not knowing what they want was simple. Don’t panic.
Many people, myself included, didn’t know they wanted to pursue a career in the sector they now work in, and they are sometimes in that job as a result of luck, fluke or chance rather than planning.
So if you are in the position of the unknown, here are a few helpful tips to help you figure it all out.
Possibly the best thing you can do to figure out career options is push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes what you are looking for comes when you’re not looking for it at all.
When I applied to do my placement year at Co-op I was dead set on a career in the genetics sector.
I just went for the Co-op job because it had an early deadline and even if I didn’t get it at the very least it was interview experience.
Lo and behold, they offered me the job and I had the most amazing placement year and as a result am now pursuing a career in retail – one I wouldn’t change for the world.
Map out some ideas
If you aren’t certain about the career options that the farming industry offers, grab a pen and paper and map out some potential career paths.
Go to a local agricultural event or exhibition, ask a few people from different businesses as to how they got there, maybe even have a look at some successful people on LinkedIn and see how they got there.
Mapping out some ideas will allow you to understand the options available to you, then all you have to do is pick the one you like the most and get chasing it.
It is OK to not have a plan, but at the same time do not waste this time when you can be adding value to your CV – something you will soon be needing when you figure out what you want.
At the same time, you may decide a career path in which you have little experience, which puts you at a disadvantage to other applicants when applying for jobs.
So, the best thing you can do at this stage is add as much varied experience to your CV as possible.
This could be different sectors or areas in agriculture, and this will help prove you are flexible, experienced and able to adapt.
Plus this will increase the likelihood that you already have experience valuable for the job role you choose.
Another great tool at your disposal is a mentor. I have four, each from different areas in the industry and each with a lot of experience in their respective areas.
If you have a mentor you can capitalise on the experience of someone else. They can give impartial and confidential advice on your new-found plans and help you avoid mistakes or issues.
So in simple terms, don’t fret if you don’t know. The world is your oyster.