Once a semester, the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences brings leading companies from the agriculture and life sciences industry together with hundreds of its students in one of the largest career fairs held at Texas A&M University.
Originally hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council, COALS Council, the event is now held as a joint venture between the COALS Council and the Texas A&M Career Center.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Fair, AGLS Career Fair, has seen many changes over the years, but its growth in size and prominence among prospective employers and the industry are among the most notable, according to event organizers. There is also a remarkable amount of interest across the Texas A&M student body.
Bringing students and industry together
According to The Washington Post’s most recent analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, “agriculture, logging and forestry have the highest levels of self-reported happiness — and lowest levels of self-reported stress — of any major industry category.”
Similarly, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences boasts an award-winning, family like culture along with nationally ranked and prestigious degree programs. As a result, more and more students are coming to the College in pursuit of a worthwhile and meaningful career.
“The AGLS Career Fair has more than 90 different businesses and organizations our students can network with at the event,” said Whitney Hinze ’13, senior career coordinator at the Texas A&M Career Center. Hinze is the coordinator assigned to the AGLS Career Fair and works closely with members of COALS Council to put on the successful event. Together, these groups ensure the students, companies and organizations attending the career fair are able to make mutually beneficial connections.
“Recently, one of our corporate partners at the Career Center came to us for help becoming further integrated into the College for recruiting,” said Hinze. “They had some Aggies working for them who really impressed them but didn’t fit the normal profile of recruit. This spun into a meeting with the company where we discussed what impressed them about these students, the skills they were looking for and what Texas A&M and the College does to prepare their students to be successful.”
The organizers of the AGLS Career Fair take great pride in fostering connections between qualified students and employers, said Hinze.
Opportunities beyond the career fair
Around 90 employers and organizations can currently participate in the AGLS Career Fair, however even more are trying to recruit students. Hinze said the Career Center has a waiting list of companies hoping to participate, but the only thing hindering their participation is venue size. She said a goal for the AGLS Career Fair is to find a venue large enough to accommodate all interested companies and the hundreds of student attendees.
Whether or not they attend the career fair, students and potential employers are still able to interact via the HireAggies platform offered by the Career Center.
The platform allows students to share their resumes with thousands of companies and organizations, not just those who are represented at the career fair. It also allows students to research companies they may be interested in and provides them with resources to interact with company recruiters.
Helping students become ideal candidates
One of the major goals of the College and the Career Center is to ensure students are successful in the workplace and lifelong career management.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers, curates a yearly list of career readiness competencies that employers and colleges are looking for. While the order of importance changes slightly from year to year, the overall competencies stay relatively the same.
Hinze works with students and leadership to make sure students graduate with what they have identified as the top eight career readiness competencies:
- Career and self-development.
- Critical thinking.
- Equity and inclusion.
“It is important that we not only equip our students with the foundational knowledge in their respective fields of study, but we utilize the resources available to ensure that we are sending graduates to the workforce who are able to think critically and have the soft skills required to be successful long-term,” said Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development for the College. “The well-rounded nature of our students reflects positively on the College and brings employers back time and again to the AGLS Career Fair.”
Skaggs also said that as part of Texas A&M AgriLife, the College is uniquely positioned to serve students and act as one of the best conduits of talent to strengthen the agriculture industry.
“Our over 550,000 former students are proof that the education they received and skills they learned within the largest comprehensive agriculture program in the nation serve as a foundation to make a difference in agriculture and the world,” he said.