When Opportunity Comes a Knockin’

When Opportunity Comes a Knockin’

Mar 8
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

by Claire Hanrahan

When I was an admitted student, I would go to a variety of events to decide if Illinois was truly the place I wanted to give $140,000 to. The events typically involved a speech by the dean of the college (and some notable alumni) on the many opportunities available to students. If you’re a nervous wreck like me, after you hear enough of these speeches, it starts to sound like college is a race for success. And if you’re not taking constant advantage of everything, you’re lagging behind. 

While that assessment is a bit overblown, it’s not entirely false. More companies are looking for students who have shown leadership potential and have some experience in the field. A 4.0 GPA isn’t enough anymore. 

So what to do? First, get yourself out there. Look for research positions and attend career fairs. This is really the only step, but it’s the most important one! Even if you don’t think you’ll get the internship or research position you want, every rejection can be treated as a learning opportunity. 

And where better to find those opportunities than the ABE department? I often hear stories about how difficult it is to get in contact with professors in other departments. Fortunately, that’s not a concern with ABE.

In every ABE class I’ve attended, the professor walked in on the first day and promised to learn everyone’s name within the first two weeks. The passion these professors have for teaching is obvious; it practically bubbles out of them. They’re constantly encouraging students to look for opportunities within the department and some have invited students to be a part of the project they’re working on. 

And it goes even further than that. One of our professors takes 14 freshman every year on a trip to Puerto Rico to get some first-hand experience with the challenges of farming. During your sophomore year, every class is accompanied with a lab portion to allow students to have hands-on experience with the material. The ABE faculty are doing everything they can to set their students up for success and that’s really the strength of the department.

College is a new start and is a perfect opportunity to explore your interests and challenge yourself. If you don’t, it’s difficult to grow either professionally or personally. Take it from me, the socially awkward bookworm who has the chance to write this today because I decided to apply to be an ABE ambassador. 

[Claire Hanrahan is a sophomore in Agricultural and Biological Engineering.]