Published on 07/13/16

CAES graduate students take to the road to explore career opportunities

By Merritt Melancon

Like many other young people, plant pathology graduate student Russell Ingram’s friends have an epic road trip planned for this summer. The difference is that instead of setting off for a music festival in the desert or visiting a beach, Ingram’s pals are hitting the road in search of jobs.

About two-dozen graduate students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will set off this July for the breadbasket of America in order to meet with potential employers and research partners.

Ingram and his fellow students know that a degree by itself, even a graduate degree, isn’t enough to land the job of your dreams. They’re going straight to potential employers to find out what they want from potential applicants. Think of it as a career fair, but in reverse, Ingram said.

The students, who are studying in the departments of entomology, plant pathology and crop and soil sciences, will travel by bus July 18–21 to visit the headquarters of Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Purdue University Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center for their midseason diagnostic workshop.

“Agricultural companies such as Dow provide some of the top-paying and most sought-after jobs in industry,” Ingram said. “I thought the most efficient means of learning the wants and needs of the industry was to go straight to the source and let them tell us what they are looking for in a potential employee.

“The added benefit to visiting the Dow campus is that students will have the opportunity to meet with (human resources) staff, the summer internship committee and crop protection leaders to discuss internship and job opportunities. The ultimate goal for this trip will be to help at least one student get an internship or a job offer.”

Ingram secured enough grant money so that each student is only paying $50 for the four-day trip. Dow provided $3,500 in funding through its Dow Aid-to-Education program. He also collected about $5,000 in funding through the departments represented and from a grant provided by the Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists.

“These graduate students are to be commended for taking the initiative to travel to the headquarters of Dow AgroSciences to learn about career opportunities,” said Jean Bertand, the assistant dean for instruction at CAES, who was instrumental in securing the grant funding that made the trip a reality. “They are positioning themselves to be well-informed, which will serve them well when it is time to get a job.”

To follow along on their road trip visit or follow the students on Twitter @UGACropCareers.

For more information about the departments of entomology, plant pathology and crop and soil sciences and other graduate programs at CAES, please visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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