July 26, 2021

Rural Issues: Advice for new college grads

In recent weeks, Facebook and other social media platforms have been populated by graduation pictures. Eighth grade, high school and college graduation ceremonies were, for the most part, held in person instead of virtually as they were in 2020.

In recent weeks, many words of advice have been bestowed upon those newly minted or soon-to-be grads. Some advice worth noting. Some advice, although well meaning, should be quickly forgotten.

Virtual classrooms, masks, canceled or altered after-school and weekend activities, and forced physical separation had an impact on young people. That impact was clearly visible in many cases, but I fear the negative repercussions that may be manifested in years to come.

My first piece of advice for all graduates is to be present. Put down whatever mobile device you are reading or listening to and be a part of what is happening in the space you occupy.

Interpersonal communication is healthy. Face-to-face, in person through conversation, facial expressions, gesturing and body language cannot be duplicated successfully via Zoom call.

I know that many people who pre-COVID-19 worked in an office every day will continue to work remotely as they have for the past 15 months. Others will work some hybrid of office and remote office.

My advice for any graduate starting a new job is to opt for the work environment that offers you the greatest opportunity to work side-by-side, in-person with others.

Even before the pandemic that rocked the world, I have always been surprised, and usually disappointed, when bright and capable candidates for amazing job opportunities shackle themselves to a limited geography in their first job out of college.

Taking a job in a state several hundred miles from where you grew up is not a lifetime commitment to that location. It is a chance to grow and learn.

Go. Have the experience.

Not every endeavor will pan out the way you plan, and quite often you will find that which you thought at the time was a failure is really a step toward success.

For example, a few years ago I hired a young man to join my team at Brownfield Ag News. With several years of radio experience under his belt, including covering some agricultural news and events, he and I both felt he was a good fit for the role I offered.

He grew up on a small farm and had basic knowledge of the industry. He has a great work ethic and finishes what he starts.

But his passion isn’t agriculture. After 10 months, he and I both knew it was time for him to move on to find that career that brings him greater joy.

No hard feelings. No drama.

He will take what he learned in his role at Brownfield and apply it where and if it fits in his next career.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.