Why agricultural science is a clever career choice

Why agricultural science is a clever career choice

Whether you’re new to study or returning to uni to advance your career, it’s important to know there’s a job for you when you graduate.

As a student at La Trobe, your employment prospects are healthy. Data from the 2016 Graduate Outcomes Survey by QILT shows the overall employment rate for La Trobe undergraduates was 86.4 per cent in 2016, which sits above the state average of 85.9 per cent.

But if you want to be even surer of what comes next when you graduate, consider a course in agricultural sciences.

‘The job opportunities are enormous’

La Trobe ranks in the top five universities nationally – and number one in Victoria – for the full time employment rate of undergraduates from its agriculture and environmental studies courses. And according to Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences/Bachelor of Business alumnus Rebecca Dunsmuir, the agricultural sector is brimming with jobs.

“The job opportunities in agriculture are enormous. They’re going to be ever-growing, because our population is ever-growing, and the agriculture sector is what feeds everyone every single day – it’s never going to stop,” Rebecca says.

If you go through an agricultural sciences degree, you’ll come out the other side with somewhere to start. It’s an exciting career path to take.

Career opportunities like food production, agronomy, biotechnology and livestock science are all on offer. And if you want to be hands-on in a supporting role, the thriving agribusiness sector opens up business-focused roles like managing money (agribusiness banking) or selling premium seafood (agribusiness marketing).

Or if, like Rebecca, you’re not sure exactly what you want to do when you graduate, choosing a double degree can open up infinite career possibilities.

“From a young age I’ve been rouseabouting, doing lamb-marking and general farm work, so I knew I loved the industry. I knew that you could study agricultural sciences, but I had no idea what kind of job I would get,” Rebecca says.

“The course gives you a background in the chemical and biological science that sits behind all of our agricultural systems. You’re exposed to different segments in the industry, like animal husbandry, cropping and fisheries. And you’re given business knowledge that you can apply straight away. It’s a platform to make your career whatever you want.”

Graduate programs offer structured career development

Rebecca’s start was with the Commonwealth Bank’s Agribusiness Graduate Recruitment Program, a structured one year program that saw her learn directly from bankers and their customers. The program is one of many offered by agribusiness firms to provide graduates with supported, on-the-job learning.

“Agribusinesses can be farmers, rural stores or farm equipment dealerships – anything to do with the agribusiness supply chain. They need farm debt to be able to expand or make purchases, and agribusiness bankers advise them on that level of debt,” Rebecca says.

Rebecca was soon promoted and now works as an Agribusiness Relationship Executive. The role has given her a full picture of the agriculture sector and experience working with diverse businesses.

I have a book of 50 customers and I get to learn off the best in the sector. You see everyone’s different farms and you’re learning every day.

“It’s a fast-paced, challenging environment. I never know what the next phone call will be. It might be someone who wants to buy a 50 million dollar property, or someone who’s overdrawn their account by 20 dollars and has no money coming in for the next three months, and you’ve got to work through it.”

A sector built on relationships

Agriculture is a sector characterised not only by science, but by soft skills, too. Close relationships throughout the agricultural community mean graduates need to practise emotional intelligence – something Rebecca finds extremely satisfying.

“Agribusiness bankers are like your extended family. You’re dealing with someone’s livelihood – it’s not only their business, it’s their home. It’s an emotional sector and it’s really, really rewarding,” Rebecca says.

No matter where you work, everyone knows everyone. It’s all about the relationships you form with people.

On graduating, Rebecca discovered she had a network of like-minded people ready to help her build those relationships. Colleagues from her course work across regional Victoria and she’s often in contact with them.

“I started a degree with 40 other people studying agricultural sciences from all over the state, and you drop in on these people all the time,” she says.

“It’s amazing, running into the people you met throughout your degree. When you need to call on someone who specialises in this or that, you just jump on the phone.”

So if you’re thinking of studying agricultural sciences, Rebecca’s advice is to take the plunge:

“Get in there, go try it. The course is a starting base for a lifelong career, and you’ll love it!”

Looking for an exciting, science-driven and relationship-focused career? Consider a course in Agricultural Sciences at La Trobe.