It’s the season of graduations and making big life choices for many young adults and choosing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life is no walk in the park. I grew up on an Angus ranch but I when I moved to college I swore I’d never go into the livestock industry. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life and career but now, I wouldn’t trade where I’ve ended up for the world. Right back here on the ranch I grew up on. In college, I tried three different majors before finally transferring to the agriculture department. Truthfully, I needed to experience new places and other ideas for majors before I could fully appreciate the way I was raised. There’s no set way to figure life out and everyone’s experiences shape their path a little differently but for those livestock kids looking to embark on new adventures and the beginning of their careers here are a few common themes that will breed success.
Pay Attention to Your Passions
I’ve always been absolutely fascinated by the sale of my family’s bulls. When I was younger and we sold everything private treaty and I was always in my parents’ hip pocket listening to the conversations. When we traveled to consignment sales I was thrilled for the trip and loved to watch everyone come through looking at the bulls. Now that we hold our own sale, it’s my favorite day of the year. I love the preparation of the ranch, putting together the catalog, and running the office side of things throughout the whole process. Bull sales are my passion.
I took that love of bull sales and turned it into the focus of my major. I chose to study Animal Science with an emphasis in Livestock Merchandising which allowed me to learn more about beef cattle while taking agriculture communications and marketing classes. I kept a bookmark folder on my browser full of the websites of any company that dealt with cattle sales or ranches that I admired for their ability to merchandise cattle. As it came time to search for internships and careers, I checked these sites regularly to see where I might find my place or future career.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Turned Down
I applied for numerous internships in the purebred cattle and stock show industries throughout college and I was turned down for every single internship that I felt excited to apply for. I decided that if I couldn’t land a “dream” internship then I would take the time to learn more about a part of the beef industry that I didn’t know much about. This lead me to a hot, smelly summer in an Idaho feedlot. Was I excited? Not at all. Did I leave Idaho with a newfound respect for cattle feeders? Definitely. I wouldn’t change my summer in the feedlot or trade it out for the internships I didn’t get.
I’ve spent my life selling Angus bulls to commercial cattlemen and now help others do the same with their bulls. However, I never truly stopped to explore what it is that they look for in feedlot cattle. The purpose of our seedstock genetics is to help commercial cattlemen produce cattle that will perform in a feedlot and feed families across the world. I knew this, but never truly understood it until I watched cattle go through a feedyard. Being turned down led me to the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the purpose of my passion.
That’s it, that’s all there is. When you’re given an opportunity, WORK. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t pour your heart and soul into every opportunity that someone gives you to learn and better yourself. When I applied for my internship at RHD, I was certain I wouldn’t get the opportunity. I thought for sure they’d want someone who had graphic design experience or was still a college student (I had just graduated). When Rachel said she wanted to interview me, I was a little set back. We had probably the most comfortable interview of my life, and I still didn’t expect to be given the opportunity. When I got an email that said they’d chosen me, I promised myself to do everything in my power to make the decision to hire me worth their time. It paid off, big time.
When I went to my feedlot internship, I could’ve slacked off and been sour that I wasn’t spending my summer somewhere more glamorous. Instead, I made it my mission to soak up every ounce of knowledge those guys could pour my way. I might not win awards driving a feedtruck, and I might’ve sent 200 fats through a fence and down the alley when I turned a sprinkler on wrong… But I CAN build a ration, treat sick cattle, plan/load a truck of fats, receive crops for feedstuffs, and manage not to faint in fear when a feedlot manager asks what exactly happened to send 200 head on a run through the yard.
Gratitude and saying thank you goes a long way. I try to personally thank everyone who buys bulls from my family along with the crew that helps us put the day on. I’m grateful for every opportunity to work on a project or learn something new at RHD.
You never know who’s watching you or how they will play into your life and career later on down the road. You may intern with someone who ends up in a company you’d also like to work for. Or you may have a boss who’s friends with a person that works at your dream company. These people will remember the good about you, but they’ll can also bring up anything negative about your past behavior if they’re asked a recommendation on working with you. Be mindful of that when dealing with others in both professional and personal settings.
There’s nothing out of reach in the search for your career and the hunt of your goals. If you don’t settle for mediocrity, you won’t find it. Put everything into your work, don’t get discouraged by the word “No,” and be thankful to anyone who helps you better yourself.
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