Students can explore grad, vet and law schools at Ag Career Day

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- About one in four graduates from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences move on to graduate school, veterinary school, law school or other professional courses -- showing that a bachelor's degree in the ag sciences is a great foundation for acquiring another degree.

Current students and alumni of the college can explore that option at Ag Career Day, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus.

The event gives agricultural businesses the chance to recruit and begin interviewing students for internships and full-time career positions, but it also offers students the chance to meet with representatives from graduate and professional schools.

Penn State's Dickinson School of Law, the Smeal College of Business at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton School of Veterinary Medicine will be represented at Ag Career Day, noted Richard Rateau, career counselor in the Office for Undergraduate Education and coordinator of the event.

"From exit surveys, we know that approximately a quarter of our graduating seniors go on to either professional or grad school," he said. "So at this year's Ag Career Day, we are giving our students opportunities to look at not just businesses and organizations that they might hire on to, but also prospects for continuing their education.

"This way, they can explore all of those options in one location and get questions answered about requirements and how to apply."

Rateau used Penn State's law and business schools as examples of the scenarios ag sciences students should consider. "We want to show students what kind of exciting career opportunities they could expect to see with an undergrad science degree from our college, coupled with a law degree or master's degree in business administration."

Red Lion native Sara Doyle, a 2012 graduate with a degree in Animal Science (Business Management option), is a case in point. Now pursuing a law degree at Penn State Law, she will be available at Ag Career Day to talk with students.

"In reality, no degree is going to prepare you for law school," she said. "Law school requires learning a new way of thinking to analyze complex problems.

"There are undergraduate courses you can take, such as critical thinking and philosophy of law, that may help to develop these skills, but the nice thing about law school is that no matter what your undergrad degree was, you are on a relatively even playing field with other students and can be successful by working hard and staying dedicated to the course work."

However, Doyle's undergrad degree will have prepared her for an expected future career. She hopes to work in agricultural and food law, either litigating regulatory compliance issues with agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or representing food companies and their business interests.

"My background in agriculture and animal sciences gives me an edge because employers and clients will appreciate my understanding of issues that are important to them, all the while having the legal education necessary to advocate for them in court or in other matters relating to the law," she explained.

Doyle invited students attending the Ag Career Day to consider law school. "Whether you've considered law school as the next step or not, stop by and talk to me or another representative from Penn State Law," she said. "If you have a passion for any sector of the agriculture industry and are interested in 'agvocating,' law school may be for you."

For more information about Ag Career Day, visit the Web at or contact Richard Rateau at 814-865-7522 or at

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Last Updated October 16, 2013