Surviving The Job Search - Don’t Be A Swimming Hen

May 23

Last night, students from around the world gathered at the Alltech Symposium for a discussion dinner about choosing careers and surviving the job search. There were three speakers – Jessi Lohman, marketing manager for equine feeds for Southern States; John Putnam, territory sales manager at Alltech, and former intern with Perdue Farms; and Declan Coyle, Andec Communications.

Jessi started the evening by telling the story of her own career in her funny, self-deprecating style. She took her passion for horses and her strong academic interest in nutrition and found a job where she could put both to good use. Jessi advised not going for a sole animal science degree, however – she suggested having a second, more broadly marketable degree, such as marketing or business.

Putnam talked about how the right internship can help you find a great job. He started his career with a successful internship at Perdue Farms, and he emphasized putting your best effort into every job. Finally, Declan Coyle gave a passionate oration about finding a job you love. “If you are a hen, lay eggs. If you are a duck, swim. Don’t be a hen swimming,” Declan explained, claiming that 83% of us are swimming hens, and only 17% of us are swimming ducks or laying hens.

After each of the individual addresses, there was a Q&A session that included questions from naming role models to specific questions about points made during the individual speeches. When asked to name role models, both John and Jessi both chose their fathers, while Declan talked about his young son, Alex, who suffers from an incurable neurological disease but still brings light to everyone he meets.

After the event, many people stayed to discuss what had been said. One piece of advice that particularly stuck was Declan Coyle’s career advice, which truly was words to live by: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come fully alive.”



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