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Students, employers flood record-setting ISU ag career day

The future of agriculture is bright, and attendance by both employers and students at last week’s Iowa State University (ISU) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ career day was proof.

The career day attracted 269 businesses and organizations this year, the most ever, according to Mike Gaul, career services director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"I’m over-the-moon excited about it," Gaul said.

He said record enrollment in the college means more of a variety of applicants for employers seeking job and internship candidates.

"We have top-notch students that present a lot of positive qualities that companies want in their workforce," Gaul said. "We hear it all the time: The students we’ve got here are just second to none."

Rachel Kelly, a junior studying agricultural communications and international ag, landed an internship last summer at Data Thresh, a start-up company in Ames. There, she gained marketing and communication skills. This year, she’s hoping to broaden her horizons.

"I’m still keeping in mind different communications opportunities, but I also want to apply what I learned in my previous experience to maybe a seed sales or a sales position or something that pushes me out of my comfort zone," she said.

Cody Fausch, a sophomore in ag studies from Cambridge, was looking at internship opportunities at the career day.

"I have to build my career somewhere, build my future, and this is the perfect place to do it, being it’s the nation’s largest (ag career day)," he said.

Fausch attended the career day last year as a freshman. He said he had four interviews after handing out 10 resumes.

"This year I’m focusing on the main companies and what I want to do. Last year, I was breaking the ice," he said.

Both students prepared for the career day in their own ways.

"I talked to other students that have had internships. They’re the ones that are really going to tell you how it was and what they thought — if it was a positive experience or if they were looking for something different," Kelly said.

Fausch said he had four people — his aunt, godmother, banker, and advisor — review his resume.

"I did whatever I could to make it look as professional as possible," he said.

The career day is an ideal place for employers to find qualified students, Gaul said.

Lauren Jenkins, a recruiter with The Climate Corporation, came to the career day with a junior-level job opportunity at the company’s risk management office in Kansas City. The company offers programs that serve as risk management tools for farmers.

Jenkins said she was impressed by the students who stopped by the booth.

"We’re seeing some really good (candidates) who have had some solid internships with ag companies," she said.

Gaul said the career day generates about 700 to 800 interviews.