As part of ensuring student success, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) offers its students numerous opportunities to connect in meaningful ways with industry professionals. Those interactions come through a variety of programs, from CAFNR-sponsored experiences to degree-specific trips.
Recently, CAFNR students met with a variety of professionals through the Agribusiness Career Connections Program, Dickinson Scholars Program and Biochemistry Industry Tour.
“The educational opportunities never really end for our students,” said Bryan Garton, senior associate dean and director of academic programs. “It’s really important for us to be able to showcase what type of careers our students can pursue, and I’m thankful for our great industry partners who provide these unique experiences.”
The Agribusiness Career Connections Program is designed to connect CAFNR undergraduates to various agribusinesses located throughout the Midwest. Students hear from businesses and organizations, with a focus on possible internships or future job opportunities. The program is sponsored, in part, by the John Brown Scholars Fund.
“I think it is absolutely vital that students are introduced to these concepts,” said Victoria Wham, who graduated with a food science and nutrition degree in December 2022. “Making connections and networking are vital skills; they prepare you for stepping into your career. Many students have no idea where to start looking for job opportunities, and many resources we do have access to are huge databases that cannot accurately answer questions or explain the finer details of a position. Being able to talk face-to-face with a potential employer is fantastic.”
Wham can certainly speak to how effective the program is at connecting students with job opportunities. She currently works for Simmons Food, which was one of the stops on the Agribusiness Career Connection tour, which took place in November 2022.
“The program absolutely played a role in me securing my current position,” Wham said. “Not only was I encouraged to reach out beforehand and make LinkedIn connections, which put me in touch with a recruiter, but I was also able to have dinner with senior members of the company and really get a feel for the work being done.”
The Dickinson Scholars Program provides an opportunity for CAFNR students to become acquainted with the Kansas City agribusiness community, including Bayer, the Livestock Marketing Association and Farm Journal. The Dickinson Scholars program is funded by an endowment established by the late Gary Dickinson.
“It’s hard to grasp how many different jobs and companies there are that keep the agriculture industry going, and this opportunity was a great example, showcasing the many options CAFNR students are open to after graduation,” said Will Shryock, a senior plant sciences student. “College isn’t only a place to get an education; it’s a platform for you to utilize and make connections to form your career in the future. Taking advantage of opportunities like this is one of the most valuable things Mizzou can offer you in your four years here.”
The Biochemistry Industry Tour took place on the other side of the state and included multiple meetings with professionals across the St. Louis area. Students interacted with the criminalistics laboratory of the St. Charles County Police Department, researchers at the Bayer Chesterfield Village Research Center and individuals with Nestle Purina PetCare.
“I loved being able to be a part of the industry tour because I was able to sit face-to-face with people and companies that I might be working with in two years,” said Mackenna Rodgers, a sophomore biochemistry major. “It was an exciting experience for me because I was fully able to grasp the opportunities that I have with my biochemistry degree. In addition, I got to see and experience what my day to day would look like in industry and get to speak to people who were once sitting where I sat.”
CAFNR students interested in connecting with industry professionals are encouraged to reach out to their advisors to get more information on the multiple program opportunities.
“Taking advantage of these opportunities as an undergraduate student is one of the most important things you can do in my opinion,” Rodgers added. “Going and participating in these events teaches you so much about yourself and what you would like to pursue or not pursue, and that is one of the main reasons you’re in college; to learn what makes you tick. In addition, taking part in these events allows you to build a strong network in a large variety of fields, which could provide and open so many doors in your future.”