New technology helps students filter employers within industry

BROOKINGS, S.D. -- The South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences held its annual career fair Sept. 28. The career fair provides students with an opportunity to make connections and find both internships and full...


BROOKINGS, S.D. - The South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences held its annual career fair Sept. 28.

The career fair provides students with an opportunity to make connections and find both internships and full-time opportunities, according to Devon Baum, a senior student double-majoring in animal science and agricultural leadership.

“I find the career fair is a great experience for professional development through introductions, impromptu questions and answers and possible interviews,” Baum said. “The agriculture industry is very diverse. Having so many successful and well known employers gives us confidence and knowledge for our future as we begin our careers and impact the world.”

Total, there were 131 employers from 15 states and about 860 students at the career fair.

Some of the companies that hire the largest amount of SDSU students include Cargill, Dow AgroSciences, Farmers Business Network, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta and Poet.


According to Julie Ohlsen, career coach for agriculture and biological sciences in the SDSU office of career development, the larger companies have more positions to fill, but all companies have SDSU graduates. She also noted there were a large number of dairy, animal science, agronomy and seed companies hiring.

“I honestly thought it went great,” Ohlsen said. “I was very pleased, I thought the students were dressed professionally and they seemed prepared. I heard a lot of great feedback from employers. It was such a successful event. There was steady traffic all day long and happy customers on both ends.”

New apps New this year to the career fair was “The Fairs App” a smartphone app to help students, which was just launched the week before. The app could be used by students to filter employers by industry or major, or to bookmark a favorite employer and easily find their location on the map.

There were 294 users and more than 7,000 screen views on the day of the career fair.

“I’ve heard good feedback from students about it,” Ohlsen said. “With the fair being so big, it can become overwhelming. I felt like the students that used it were very targeted in their approach this year. They knew who they were going to talk to and exactly where they were.”

As this is the first time an app was used at SDSU for a career fair, Ohlsen and the office of career development plan to conduct a survey on it to evaluate its success.

Also new this year was Handshake, the career management software tool for the office of career development. This software lists internship and job postings only accessible to SDSU students and alumni. It also has resources such as sample resumes and the option to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

This year’s career fair was held earlier than in the past. To prepare students, were able to meet with a career counselor at a resume blitz held exclusively for agriculture and biological science students.


“I personally go into several classrooms and seminars to inform about resources and events coming up, our drop-in hours and workshops,” Ohlsen said.

Career fairs are important for networking, exposing students to different opportunities and connecting students and employers, she said.

“Students with more than one job offer are typically students that have had 2-3 internships,” Ohlsen said. “They know what they do like and what they don’t like to do, and they have those connections.”

Career fairs are held early in the fall, as many internships are filled by Thanksgiving. The university is looking to hold a campus wide career fair in the spring to accommodate students and employers with openings.

Premium sponsors of this year’s ag-bio career fair were Agropur, Farmers Business Network, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, JBS, Wheat Growers, CHS, Harvest Land Cooperative and Christensen Farms.

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