It’s that time of year again, almost Christmas, time for exams and the end of another semester. This time its a little more important then other years for four year students like myself it means 1 more semester of school and then off into the real world. This brings up so many questions and so many uncertainties it can strike fear into even the most organized and future oriented students. I have determined that their are four main options for what to do next year. Option 1: Find a farm and go to work, growing food and make a living off the land. Option 2: Find a job working for an agribusiness company. Option 3: Continue your education in agriculture and work in research. Option 4: Get a government job and work on legislation and enforcement. These four options have varying degrees of stability, opportunity to have an impact on the industry and varying amounts of stress and time spent indoors in front of a computer.
Going to the Farm
The vast majority of my class mates are not returning home to farm, or trying to start a farm soon after graduating, at least not full-time. This has many factors involved with it, not least of which is the fact that the bachelors degree that we are receiving is more theoretically based and their is the option of a practical college diploma that is better suited for preparing people for farming. Asides from that fact their is also the reasoning that most of our parents and the farming community in general have been telling us for most of our lives not to come back to the farm as it is not economically sustainable and we should trust that being a farmer will make enough money to put food on the table. Thats right, farming is so risky financially that the people that put food on everyones table might not be able to put food on their table without an off farm job.
Off Farm Job
So thats where most of my classmates are headed, off the farm for a job in the agribusiness sector where they can make their reliable wages and then perhaps farm on the side so that they don’t go crazy at their desks everyday. This trend to off farm jobs and farming at night and on weekends is pretty common in agriculture today, and the many of the graduates in my class are already in line ready to take on their positions at their company of choice and ready to start working their way up through the ranks. But what is their for those who don’t want to work in agribusiness.
Some of our class are looking for nice government jobs where they can get lots of benefits and job security. Unfortunately with cuts to government agriculture funding their are fewer jobs in this sector and lots of people with lots of experience trying to get those jobs. On the other hand their is a real chance at making an impact on the agriculture industry and the ability to represent the people of Canada and what they want from agriculture. So what if you can’t get a government job, or don’t want a government job, or business job, well their is really one major option left, more school!
The final option that lots of my classmates are looking at is graduate school, postponing that difficult choice of what to do with your life for a few more years. Or even if your really in to the idea of science and focused research for the rest of your life. Unfortunately it has a few major down falls too, generally it means paying out a bunch more money or at least not starting to pay of undergrad quite yet. It also means that you need to have some area of interest that you want to specialize in, spending the next year to four years working on one narrow area of focus can be really annoying for someone with broad interests like myself.
So if your parents and banker don’t want you to farm fulltime, and you don’t want to stand in line and pay your time working for agribusiness, you can’t find one of those nice government jobs and your not interested in studying one question for the next four years… well then Where to Now?