NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University was one of two higher education institutions selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help recent graduates find employment in the agricultural field.
TSU hosted a job fair on Feb. 5 that attracted 60 students from several southern colleges and universities. Alabama A&M University hosted a similar event the day before.
William Hayslett, Sr. is academic coordinator for TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. He said he’s honored that USDA officials selected TSU to host one of the job fairs.
“It says that we’re on their radar, and that they thought we have something to offer,” Hayslett said. “We also want to expose our students to job opportunities.”
The USDA Pathways Recent Graduates Program is a one-year program for individuals who have recently graduated and seek a career development program with training and mentorship. Applicants must apply within two years of degree completion.
The benefit of the job fairs, according to USDA officials, is that they allow individuals to apply on the spot and avoid the online process. It’s also an opportunity to ensure diversity in the selection process, said Marcus Brownrigg, deputy director at the USDA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“We were tasked to see what we could do to increase the number of diverse student interns and recent graduates we brought onboard USDA,” Brownrigg said. “And this is one of the mechanisms that we’ve been using. Going out where students actually are and taking their applications onsite is part of our overall recruitment strategy.”
Recruiters at the TSU job fair took applications for farm loan officer trainees, who undergo a year of training before full federal employment.
Lauren Brewer, who is majoring in international studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said she’d like to get one of the positions. But she said the job fairs are also an opportunity to network.
“It’s a good way for students to come together and network with officials,” said the 21-year-old Brewer. “You just can’t get that through an email or a phone call.”
With more than 100,000 employees and 7,000 offices, USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.
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