Agricultural Economics Alumni Advice to Students: Internships

East Campus pillars at enterance

July 10, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — Alumni of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Agricultural Economics recommended today's students "aggressively pursue internships," according to a survey.

The department surveyed 2,899 alumni and received 789 responses.

The alumni answered the question "What advice would you give our students that wanted to follow your career choice?"

The most common answer was "work internships."

"The advice from many of the respondents was for students to aggressively pursue internships, to serve as many as possible, in as many fields with as many different types of companies as they can," said Larry Van Tassell, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics.  "In fact, many expressed internships were beneficial enough that students should work for free, if necessary."

Many responders said that internships helped with networking.

"Relationships developed during internships were not only valuable in landing the first job for many alumni, but formed associations that remained just as strong and important many years later," Van Tassell said.

Other advice included encouraging students to intern outside of Nebraska and to get work experience before returning to family farms.

Of the respondents that graduated after 2000, 44 percent did not serve an internship, 26 percent served one internship and 29 percent served at least two internships.

"Internships are becoming increasingly popular; a significantly greater number of internships are utilized by students graduating after 2000, as any time period before," Van Tassell said.

Alumni also advised students to participate in extracurricular activities and to take leadership roles in these activities.

Of those graduating since 2000, 75 percent of alumni participated in at least one club or organization, with 14 percent participating in more than three. Fewer than 50 percent of alumni served in a leadership capacity. Nearly all of the respondents that participated in more than three clubs or organizations held leadership positions in three or more of those organizations.

"A number of respondents lamented they did not take advantage of campus activities and clubs, but instead chose to spend their time working on their family operations they intended to return to," Van Tassell said.  "They felt they forfeited opportunities to network and develop relationships that they could have drawn on throughout their careers."

Larry Van Tassell
Department Head
Agricultural Economics

Heather Haskins
Student Writer

Dan Moser
IANR News Service

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