Back in March, the SFF advising team hosted “Searching for Jobs in SFF,” a Professional Development event aimed at sharing the nitty gritty details of what job-hunting in the field of sustainable agriculture and food systems looks like. Because Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems is an emerging field, there are so many directions and steps one can take to find and/or create good work for themselves.
We had a great turnout with about 20 students, peer advisor Alexeya O’Brien, and faculty members, including: Lisa Depiano, Sarah Berquist, John Gerber, Amanda Brown, and Nikki Burton. As a group, Sarah led us in an examination of relevant, current, professional opportunities across our four different concentrations in SFF (production, permaculture, food justice, agricultural education). We were lucky to hear from Amanda and Nikki about their experiences working in production, and what they look for when they are hiring…invaluable advice!
We then split up into focus areas, and did some small group analysis of two to three positions relevant to students’ current interest. Lisa led the permaculture group, Nikki led the production room, and Sarah and John led the Ag Ed/Food Justice group. As small groups, we discussed preferred and desired qualifications for different tiered positions. We identified reach positions, and made note of what type of experience we would need to gain, to obtain one of those reach positions in the future. Students brainstormed internships, and how to evaluate and advocate for fair pay while searching for an internship.
Lisa and John talked to us about the importance of building relationships, and our community involvement. While this was an event aimed at covering the nitty gritty of job searching, we took some time to think about our core values because as Sarah reminded us, “we do our best work when our work aligns with our values.” The combination of applying practical job-hunting skills, with an examination of what is truly important to us, resulted in a meaningful night of thinking about what the future holds post-graduation.
The nitty gritty nature of our workshop enabled students to take home some practical tools to help begin and organize their job hunt. Students left with a basic template to keep track of potential job opportunities, and a compilation of links to job databases with which SFF students have found success. The path post-college looks different for all SFFers, but having a conversation to know we are not alone in this process, and we have plenty of people to support us was a real benefit of this event. SFF faculty really care about their students, and our students really care about this work. The fact that students and faculty took time out of their busy schedules to come talk about jobs on a Wednesday evening on Zoom during dinner time is a testament to the caring and committed nature of both our students and teachers. Thanks for a great evening, SFF!