I have a small piece of paper hanging next to my desk at work. It bears the U.S. Department of Agriculture emblem and 5 simple words, “Never Let Your Dreams Falter.” I look at it and think back to what it took to get me here today, just a semester away from college graduation.

It was mid-December, near the end of my first semester at Iowa State University (ISU). Just a few days prior, I had responded to a posting on the college job board and there I was, walking to my interview. Google Maps told me it was just a measly seven-minute drive; a walkable distance, I thought - especially for someone unfamiliar with the CyRide bus system.

After covering two hills, five blocks and nearly the entire ISU campus, I began to think I was set up. It took me nearly one hour to cover that 3.1 miles in the dead of winter, but I made it and even got the job. On that first day at the Council for Agricultural Science & Technology (CAST), I hung up this small symbol that reminds me still today to focus on the road ahead and never let my dreams falter.

My advice for students is to stay informed. You can’t “talk the talk” or “walk the walk” if you’re out of the loop. I encourage students to embrace social media and utilize their Facebook and/or Twitter to follow industry-wide news, and gain a voice by engaging in these thought-provoking discussions.

As agriculturalists, it is critical that we are able to see both sides of an issue and can distinguish fact from fiction. Knowing where to find credible information is key. Take the opportunity to join a professional organization, network with industry leaders, and find unique internships. These sorts of experiences will help catapult you to the career you had always dreamed of.

About the blogger:
I am Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, currently a senior at Iowa State University, majoring in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture and a minor in Agronomy. I was born and raised on a small family farm in Alburnett, an Eastern Iowa town of just 600 people. Following graduation I would like to continue my education, pursuing a degree in agricultural law. My ultimate career goal is to work with agricultural policy development, and possibly hold public office.