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New ABM Student Success Program Prioritizes Professional Development

two students talking

The major in Agricultural Business Management has created an Office of Student Mentoring (OSM). The purpose of the OSM is to provide students with the guidance, resources, personalized plans and monitoring necessary to obtain the career preparation to be competitive in the job market upon graduation and well-prepared for an upward trajectory in their career path. These skills are commonly referred to as professional development.   

The OSM is administered by the Board of Directors (BOD) for the ABM Office of Student Mentoring and the ABM Undergraduate Programs Office. On Nov. 9, 2022, the BOD had its inaugural meeting. Among other topics, the board had the opportunity to discuss how to best leverage ABM students’ strengths and help them grow in their areas of weaknesses through professional development programs.

Professional development services offered by the office include internship and job resources, specialized skills workshops, research opportunities, job shadowing, networking events, career exploration, Executive in Residence, mingling events, ABM Ambassadors and a mentorship program. The OSM will also provide employment opportunities for students to assist with office duties and responsibilities. 

ARE Department Head Junjie Wu believes that the office will provide a unique opportunity for students to develop skills they might not learn in a traditional classroom setting.

“In today’s economy, career success depends not only on hard knowledge that students learn from the classroom but also on soft skills that they develop during their college years – skills such as communication, leadership, professionalism and collaborative problem-solving,” he said. “Universities often do a great job teaching knowledge, but not so much developing soft skills. The Office of Student Mentoring will play a key role in helping our students develop such skills, which we believe are critical to succeed in today’s job market and their careers.”

The OSM was established with generous support from Robert “Robbie” Fulford, a North Carolina entrepreneur and NC State alumnus who serves on the board of directors. ABM Director of Undergraduate Programs John Russ feels fortunate to be able to enhance the ABM program with support from Fulford and the BOD. 

“To be successful today in the job market, students very much need professional development, such as work experiences and networking,” Russ said. “I feel honored to be able to work with the BOD, comprised of very dedicated and successful agribusiness professionals who will help my office determine, create and offer the professional development needed. Robbie’s support and leadership were paramount in the creation and operation of the OSM. Our almost 500 ABM students are very fortunate that we have such strong support and leadership from our agribusiness communities.”

Charles Eason, lead manager of Leaf Operations at Reynolds American, also serves on the board of directors. An ABM alumnus from the class of 2019, Eason hopes to pass on what he learned at NC State and in the workforce to future ABM students.

“I believe I can provide valuable insights into what specific attributes are both needed and considered valuable to current employers,” he said. “I hope to leverage my vision and professional network to help the OSM to provide the resources and training necessary for our graduates to meet these needs, and ultimately to be successful in their careers.”

Wyatt Richardson, another NC State ABM alumnus, brings 25 years of field and management experience to the board of directors. The strategic accounts manager at Bayer Crop Science is eager to pay it forward by investing in the futures of ABM students.

“I have enjoyed helping students through different intersections in the past to initiate their career and now having a chance to reach a broader group through a deliberate approach is exciting,” Richardson said.

Perdue Farms Senior Flock Advisor Justin Somers has 20 years of agriculture industry experience and 15 years of agriculture policy experience to bring to the board. The ABM alumnus and president of Yadkin County Farm Bureau is passionate about advocating for the next generation of ag leaders, farmers and professionals.

“The agriculture industry needs qualified individuals in numerous sectors,” Somers said. “In this highly competitive industry and career market, students must be given every opportunity available to be successful, which is why I feel the Office of Student Mentoring is an invaluable tool to the students.”

Members of the board include Ben BradleyMatt Drake, Charles Eason, Jimbo Eggleston, Robbie Fulford, Rhonda GarrisonArchie GriffinLee Anne HamkeJoy HicksMarlowe Ivey VaughanDock JonesNelson PowellSarah Rachels, Wyatt Richardson, John Russ, Sandi B. Smith, Justin Somers, Peter ThorntonHarrison WalkerLarry WootenRon Wright and Junjie Wu. 

The office has already sponsored several student events this semester, including the Down East Road Trip, Mountain Road Trip, Farm Bill Speaker Series, a sales workshop and a business networking event.

Visit our Undergraduate Programs page to learn more about the Agricultural Business Management major.