10 Career Lessons from an Aggie

In my world during my academic years, I was one of many "Aggies" at the University of Guelph. "Aggie" refers to students who are studying Agriculture at University. Being an "Aggie" and being a part of a larger family at the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) was something I was extremely proud of and I still remain actively involved as an alumnus.
Last year I was honoured to be the Guest Speaker at the 2013 OAC Goodtimes Banquet which takes place annually every January. I remember feeling humbled and proud to return to an event that I attended just a few short years ago, but this time in a different capacity. As the person who could help share insight and thoughts to those students who soon will be graduating.
It is one year ago today that I shared my thoughts with the large audience and I thought today it would be fitting to share my speech in hopes to inspire any other twenty-somethings out there who are on their road to discovering what their true passion is with 10 helpful career lessons that I have learned since graduating.

10 Career Lessons from an Aggie (for Aggies)

10. Be a Sponge. Like a sponge, soak up everything around you. Take it all in: learn and grow!
9. Work for free. Some of the best real-life experiences (and maybe been potential job opportunities!) will come from times when you offered your services for free. You do get noticed!  
8. Leverage your resources-- get mentors. Seek out people who you aspire to be professionally and personally and don't be afraid to reach out and ask them how they go to where they are. They'll be happy to share.
7. There is no excuse to NOT network. There are simply no excuses to not network now that everyone is so well connected through online mediums and social media.
6. Roll with the punches. The best learning experiences you will have will be when $hit goes wrong and was unexpected/unplanned. People (including yourself!) get to truly know who you are as a person when you're under pressure.
5. Know who you are to give your best self. It makes everything easier when you know what your core values and beliefs are. These are the foundation to everything you do. Be strong in what you believe in and select a job that aligns with these.
4. Don't be a cookie cutter. The world would be a boring place if we all did/said the same thing. Stand out and don't be afraid to stand out to be different.
3. You can do anything, but you can't do everything. A tough life lesson to learn but true. At some point in time, you must choose what your "niche" or "passion"  is and once you do, run with it!
2. Live your passion. Love your passion. Be a passion. Share your passion. Relating to #2, once you find what you are best at and what you love to do, make a career out of it and become the expert in that field.
1. Always be an agricultural advocate everywhere you go. No matter where you go or what job you pursue and whether it is in agriculture or not, always take your ag roots with you and wear them with pride. We owe it to give back to the industry that gives us so much as Aggies!

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