Representatives from First Bank & Trust Company visited ARE 312 (Agricultural Marketing) to provide an industry update on trends in agricultural lending and explain to students what a career in the industry could look like for an Agricultural Business Management (ABM) graduate. First Bank currently has 33 locations in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anticipates opening new branches in eastern NC, where farm cash receipts are high. As the company expands, it plans to grow its team of lenders by forming pipelines with universities like NC State and VA Tech to recruit students. An example of this is 2021 ABM grad Maranda Schill.
After completing an internship with First Bank, Maranda Schill was hired as a portfolio manager in Harrisonburg, Virginia. During her internship she made farm visits with clients and strengthened her communication skills with customers. Schill said the agricultural finance classes she took at NC State boosted her career readiness as she put into practice what she learned in the classroom. She also encouraged current students to take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by CALS Career Services such as resume help and mock interviews.
Other key takeaways from the discussion led by First Bank representatives include:
- First Bank is interested in hiring students with a background in agriculture. Having experience with farming is one of the most desirable characteristics of a potential employee.
- Ideally, lenders at First Bank serve their community from within. With anticipated expansion into eastern North Carolina, this may develop into employment opportunities for NC State grads.
- Recent grads often begin by managing small portfolios under the supervision of a mentor. This creates confident lenders who establish ongoing relationships based on trust, through the good times and the bad.
- Other career opportunities at First Bank include marketing, credit analysis, residential mortgages and more.
For students with a passion for agriculture and education from NC State, agricultural lending can be a promising career field.