Getting noticed is the first hurdle in your journey towards a career in the animal health industry. If you’re a graduate, this can be particularly overwhelming because you’ll doubtless feel some pressure as you step into the world of careers and work which can be extremely competitive.
Whether your degree is in animal science, agricultural economics, animal nutrition or veterinary science, you will have one thing in common with your peers and that’s the desire to land the job of your dreams.
What that job happens to involve is something you and you alone will fully understand. You might have dreamed all your life of living among the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city and working in the companion animal sector or perhaps you want to live rurally and push the livestock industry to new heights with innovative ideas…whatever your dream is, you need to know in your heart, what the ideal route towards that goal is. And this is where many fall…at the first hurdle.
It can be tempting as a new graduate, to stumble into the first offer and sleepwalk away from your professional ideals. Don’t let that happen. Know what it is that you want and plan effectively to enable your plans to come to fruition.
When you know what your ideal position is, then you can begin to implement your plan for world domination. Ok, not that…but definitely towards a job which is fulfilling, fun, well-paid and with plenty of scope for professional growth.
What are your strengths?
Before we get into our 5 ways to get noticed, it might be a good idea to consider what your strengths are. This can be the best way to narrow down your ideal career options and decide which area of animal health you’d like to focus on.
Your professional strengths will very often run parallel to the aspects of your work/study which you find most enjoyable. In other words…what part of your chosen profession do you love?
Are you hands-on and practical? Someone who just loves to be outdoors and around animals in all their various environments or do you love organisation and planning? Perhaps your strengths lie in your ability to make predictions about the future of the animal health industry or you might be brim-full of ideas on how to improve animal nutrition and care.
Narrow down the parts of your chosen field into those areas you love and those you don’t enjoy so much. This will be the best way for you to really decide on a suitable career path.
1: Understand which area you want to work in
To succeed in finding the ideal career in animal health and ultimately get your dream job, you need to understand what jobs are actually available in animal health. Once you know what the options are, you can decide which is the best choice for you and then set out to begin your ideal career armed and ready to go with all the information you need.
Here are just some of the career paths which you might follow depending on your area of interest:
- Livestock production and agribusiness
- Animal nutrition/feed milling
- Sales, marketing or technical services
- Regulatory affairs and quality control
- Breeding and genetics
- Government policy
- Clinical research/R&D
- Animal welfare
You can even choose the species speciality in which you’re most interested
- Companion animal
- Beef/dairy cattle, sheep, goats or other ruminants
- Swine and poultry production
As soon as you know with confidence which areas most interest you, then you can begin to narrow down your choices. An important point here is that if you are currently engaged in your degree and not yet ready to graduate, it’s now that you should be looking to secure work experience or part-time work in a relevant field.
2: Gain some work experience
This is really most relevant to undergraduates but can be just as important for recent graduates and current industry professionals. Undertaking part-time work or work experienced within a relevant business can really make your resume pop.
For undergraduates, volunteering or applying for internships will also make you much more desirable in the future when the ideal opportunity presented itself.
3: Try on different hats
Don’t limit yourself. When you’re still in the planning phase of your career, it’s good to keep an open mind. Give lab work a try…see what marketing within the industry entails or get out and about in the field and see what the sales process is all about. You might surprise yourself and uncover hidden talents at the same time. The breadth of a candidates experience can be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing between two potential hires. Make sure you’re the one with the wider scope!
4: Push yourself further
Graduates in Animal Science or Animal Health might be eligible to apply for multi-discipline graduate programs which are sometimes offered by the public sector and larger private organisations. Graduate Programs are structured, professional development programs which are especially designed for new graduates.
For those already in industry roles, seek professional development to extend yourself within your current organisation. Talk to your line manager and/or HR and see how they can assist you to develop the skills you want to build upon for the next step in your career through the organisation’s learning and development platforms. Maybe there is an internal project you can put your hand up for or a secondment role in a different function within the organisation. Stretch yourself, show initiative and approach work activities with positivity.
5: A specialist recruitment agency can offer more than just a job
When it comes to career development, a specialist recruitment agency like The Aicila Group can be the base from which you launch your future potential. With assistance from recruitment specialists who know the industry inside-out and have the connections you need at the ready, you could find yourself working in a position you never dreamed about. A great recruitment team can support you throughout your career as an animal health/nutrition professional, offering you opportunities which you might not have otherwise had the chance to try.
Alicia Keenan is the Managing Director at The Aicila Group- a globally active and highly specialised animal health/nutrition and animal production recruitment and consulting company with HQ in Australia.