What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s the age-old question, which some of us still do not quite know how to answer. Tim Hammerich founded a company to try to help college students, young professionals, and agriculture professionals alike answer that question.
AgGrad was founded in 2015 by Hammerich and Jeremy Turner. Since then, they have been striving to provide a community for young professionals in agriculture. Using that community, they highlight different ag careers and companies and connect potential employees with open jobs in the industry. These connections are made through various social media channels, such as Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
What was the reasoning behind starting AgGrad? Hammerich explained that he and Turner wanted to provide students with a service they wished they had upon graduation. “I networked throughout college, but even upon graduation I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Hammerich said.
Having connections is obviously important to having a successful career in agriculture, but there’s more involved. Hammerich provided these four pieces of advice for ag students — but let’s be honest, they are really for anyone in school.
- Be willing to commit yourself to one thing.
- Do something that makes you come alive.
- Try something that might fail.
- Do something that you won’t see the results for a long time.
One way AgGrad helps people “figure out what they want to do when they grow up” is through their Snapchat channel. Videos are the easiest way to showcase what a career is truly like. Snapchat provides the perfect channel for showcasing real-time job updates. Their plan was for people working in the agriculture industry to takeover for a day and show what it is truly like to be in that job. For example, people can learn what it is like to work as a cattle-order buyer, a seed salesperson, or in extension — all in one week, simply by following along on their phones.
“What’s cool about Snapchat is that the audience not only gets to see it, but they get to engage as well. Messages can be sent and responded to in real time.”
Along with the Snapchat channel, AgGrad had the Ultimate Ag Intern who traveled around the country, visiting companies and highlighting careers through a vlog. Next year they are hoping to have two interns who can travel together. (Be sure to follow AgGrad on social media if you are interested in applying for next summer!)
Another unique service AgGrad provides is the podcast: The Future of Agriculture. When it comes to featuring guests, the primary criteria is the sector of the industry they’re in — Hammerich likes them to be involved in either ag tech, ag sustainability, or food security. A different viewpoint is always a plus.
“I think there’s some aspects of agriculture that fall into the us versus them. I don’t think that is healthy or helpful for the industry. I think welcoming new ideas into conventional ways of thinking is beneficial for everyone.”
In order for agriculture to continue and remaining capable of feeding the growing population, all aspects of the industry must work together for the common good.
“I think there is value in all viewpoints of agriculture coming together and having a civil discussion about the future of the industry,” Hammerich said.
The AgGrad community not only provides jobseekers and employers a way to find each other, it also provides the avenue for civil discussion and education.
“When I get to know the members of the community on an individual basis, that’s my favorite part. The helping real people,” he said. Those people share stories in the Facebook group about looking for and attaining jobs because of the work that AgGrad has done.
“There’s vanity metrics that show how many people are following you on social media, so we can see we’re getting a following. But that doesn’t mean anything unless there are individual stories that show, ‘I did not know what to do with my life, but because of something I saw on AgGrad and because of the work of the recruiter, I got connected with someone who could give me a job in that area.’ Those stories really need to happen very frequently to keep us viable,” Hammerich said.
AgGrad is not only for people looking for jobs, they also have ways to help companies. There are multiple ways for companies to get their open jobs in front of the AgGrad community. Featured agribusinesses have their brand on the AgGrad website, receive plugs to the community throughout the year, get a visit from the Ultimate Ag Intern and will be featured on the new show, AgGrad Live, which is launching this month.
On top of helping people find their dream job, Hammerich helps companies find their dream employees. His day job, as he likes to say, is as a headhunter for a firm he owns in Texas. He explains that if a company calls and says they need a feedmill manager in Central Alabama that he then starts working. “I go to work, and find them the right person. If they hire that person, then I get paid.”
Where are agriculture careers headed in the future? Hammerich explains that he is optimistic, but not dogmatic. Technology is changing a lot of fields, and agriculture is not immune.
“I think there will be definite changes in the future of agriculture careers, but in my opinion there is always going to be a demand for talent. That is for a couple reasons: Only 1 percent of the world is involved in production agriculture, and the importance of growing food, fiber, and natural resources for an increasing population is not going to change,” he said.
This is good news for people graduating with agriculture degrees — there is always going to be a strong demand for them, and now there is a company to help connect companies and graduates.