February 18, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
NC State University
Animal Science DepartmentWebsite
Kimberly Ange-van Heugten Ph.D.: I believe there will be an enduring impact on most graduates (at all levels) due to the pandemic since so many industries have suffered. While some may be financial, others will be emotional / psychological or personal in impact. This said - many of my students are interested in companion animals and this is one category that has flourished in the pandemic as many people have adopted animals for companionship during the pandemic and many have also strengthened their relationships with the animals due to spending so much more time together. Thus - this industry is holding its own during the pandemic and the job market working with companions (whether going on to graduate or veterinary school) or other aspects. I believe our graduates will have a great chance for successful careers.
Kimberly Ange-van Heugten Ph.D.: In my field there are many positions in sales (feed related / medical supplies and needs related), biomedical research for advancement of animal care (they need new vaccines and flea medications, etc.) and human care (especially since this has been so crucial to beating covid-19), animal training / animal management, and of course through furthering their education in DVM or MS or PhD programs.
Kimberly Ange-van Heugten Ph.D.: Communication skills is my #1 answer. Learning to look people in the eye and communicate. Putting down the mobile devices and having real conversations where they listen and learn.
My #2 - doing REAL research. Reading peer review journals to learn real concepts and not falling for fads that can actually hurt the animals in the long run.
#3 Work hard and realize that you get a paycheck for doing your job - you get promoted for doing "the extra" or being reliable, etc. While a work / life balance is needed ... working hard and showing your value is also needed. Especially in animal careers where being late or not showing up means the animals suffer.
Texas A&M University
Department of Animal ScienceWebsite
G. Cliff Lamb: Technology in agricultural systems are being adopted in animal agriculture at an increasing rate. This technology ranges from technology in production agriculture (such as genetic technologies and applied reproductive technologies), to sustainability of our natural resources in animal production systems (such as sensor technology and machine learning/artificial intelligence), to the allied industry supporting animal agriculture (such as research and development of products for improved herd health and production. Therefore, the job market for animal scientists will be diverse, but for a modernized agricultural system.
G. Cliff Lamb: Animal experiences such as internships, study abroad, judging teams stand out. From a curriculum standpoint, in addition to typically animal science class students should also have classes in business or economics.
G. Cliff Lamb: Livestock production occurs in every state in the US, so there is no particular good place since any place with livestock has a need for skilled people. Workforce training and availability of qualified individuals is a future concern for the livestock industry; however, the central parts of the US (i.e., flyover states) tend to be where the predominant concentrations of opportunities may lie, since this is where most of the larger agricultural companies are located.