As I've submerged myself in the agriculture industry, taking every networking opportunity that comes my way and adding to my portfolio, I've realized there's a world of opportunities out there I did not know existed when I was a 13-year-old who thought I had it all figured out. I've very recently realized my path doesn't have to be so straight and narrow.

Navigating through College

By Lea Kimley

 

Some may call me your typical “farm girl” turned “ag communicator,” but I would tell you they’re wrong.

While growing up on a farm in small-town South Charleston, Ohio led me to where I am now, the story of how I got here is anything but traditional. I live my life in organized chaos. While my color-coded planner is my most valuable belonging, my car is messy and sometimes my laundry piles up too high.

I just wrapped up my junior year at THE Ohio State University where I study agricultural communication. This opportunity with Shift•ology will mark my sixth internship. While it has been a challenge juggling work, school, club activities and a social life in college, I am a firm believer in “you get out what you put in.” As a result, I compensate for my lack of sleep with a lot of iced coffee, a great attitude and an even better support system. After all, this is supposed to be the best four years of my life.

 

Luckily, when I was about 13, I had the world figured out:

Go to THE (yes all caps again) Ohio State University: ✓

Study agricultural communication: ✓

Become a communication director of a commodity group: …

But then I did what everyone told me to do. I submerged myself in the agriculture industry, I took every networking opportunity I could and I added to my portfolio weekly. Then I realized there’s a world of opportunities out there – opportunities I did not know existed when I was 13. While I would love to dedicate my career to using producers’ check-off dollars to generate the best ROI, I very recently realized my path doesn’t have to be so straight and narrow.

As mentioned, I love to plan. Therefore, I was in denial that my teenage life plan wasn’t going to work out for me. While I still might work for a commodity group some day, I could instead become the editor of a magazine (editorial name – Taking the LEAd), work in marketing for any agriculture company, dabble in a sales career, further my education or… actually ANYTHING.

As a result of my broadened horizon, I find myself here at Shift•ology. Within the first week, I exercised my event planning skills, writing skills, design skills and love of picking out promotional products. I’ve done all of this while working with two commodity groups on their Virtual Farm Trip programs.

As I sit back and reflect on the week, I realize maybe public relations is the career path for me, or maybe it’s not. I’ll know more by the end of the summer, so stay tuned!  

So, I don’t regret a minute of my overwhelming lifestyle because it has given me the opportunity to test-drive multiple careers. I know that no matter where I end up, I will get to be a voice for the agricultural industry. Where will I end up? I have no clue, but check back in a year (or ten.)