AgPack Strong: Rachel Grantham’s Advice to Students

CALS alumni Rachel Grantham is now an agronomist at Smithfield.

When Rachel Grantham applied to CALS, she had one clear goal: an advanced degree in animal nutrition that would propel her into a top sales career after graduation.

Fast forward a few years, and Grantham is the managing agronomist for Smithfield Hog Production Division’s Smithfield Agronomics program. She provides planning, budgeting and in-season crop assistance to grain farmers with the goal of improving nutrient, crop and farm efficiency.

It’s miles from her original plan – and Grantham couldn’t be happier.

“Your interests and goals can and will change,” she said. “I adore my job.”

How has CALS affected your life and career?

“I owe my job and many connections to CALS…I’ve met folks from all over in a wide variety of professions, and because of those connections and my degree from CALS, I was able to secure a job when many around me in other colleges and career paths were not…It’s opened doors to opportunities many 26-year-olds would have never had the chance to experience.

“My first experience with CALS was sitting in Talley Student Center at freshmen orientation thinking, ‘Wow, I’m really glad I applied, this is amazing!’ From then on, it did not disappoint. My four-year stint as an agriculture business management major was filled with enriching classes, a trip to Europe, [three years] as a CALS Ambassador Outreach Advisor, a marketing competition in Las Vegas and endless networking opportunities. It was four years of unforgettable memories.”

Rachel’s Advice To Students

  1. Your classes, grades and extracurricular activities are important. “Be sure to work hard for your degree, but remember, on a resume and in a job interview, GPA isn’t the only indicator of collegiate success.”
  2. The profession you dream of as an incoming freshman doesn’t have to be the one you choose at graduation. “Your interests and goals can and will change – embrace that!”
  3. Take a job or internship in something different than your main interest. “You just might love it. Every new experience helps shape you, your college career and your future.”
  4. Participate. “Go to the career expo, join a new club and use CALS Career Services. Keep your resume sharp and take public speaking classes (you won’t regret it!)”
  5. Find a mentor. “This could be a professor, professional or faculty/staff member. They’re there to help.”
  6. Dress sharp, proceed with confidence and make those connections! “The professional world is woven tighter than you could ever imagine. Networking is the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for a productive future.”
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