AFRE Advice: Thoughts from Alumni and Students

Advice for incoming and returning AFRE students from recent graduates, current students, and veteran alumni.

As the new academic year begins, the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) welcomes our new and returning undergraduate and graduate students to campus. Before classes start and extracurriculars shift into high-gear, take a bit of advice from current AFRE students, recent graduates, and seasoned alumni on how to make the most of your time at Michigan State University.

In the Classroom

"Get out of your bubble and work on problems and projects outside your comfort zone.  Use your time as a student to build your “toolbox” and don’t worry about the precise subject matter as much as becoming a well-rounded applied economist who can contribute to projects on various topics."
– Graduate program alumna Nicole Olynk Widmar

"I truly encourage students to take an active part in classes. They are required for a reason and actually engaging in class can teach you so much more about the big picture of agriculture. This big picture will allow you to relate it in a real world setting in the future."
– ABM alumna Andrea Williams

"Make the most out of your time as MSU by taking advantage of all that AFRE has to offer but also all that MSU has to offer. My time meeting with professors and students from other departments was extremely valuable in preparing me for my next career move."
– Graduate program alumna Kendra Levine


Career Moves

"My biggest advice would be to network with fellow students and businesses. There are many student groups that bring in business professionals to network and offer job opportunities. Go to these events, shake hands, hand out business cards and resumes, and show your interest in finding a career in your field. Go to career fairs and do the same thing. Practice your interview skills and polish up your resume. It will never be easier to make the right connections and possibly find your first job out of college while you are still at college. Once you are out of school, it will only be more difficult to make that personal connection with a person or a company."
– ABM alumnus Andrew Schultz

"Network while you’re in school.  Career fairs are a great place to start."
– FIM senior John Holbrook

"My best advice to students is to get involved. Find things to do outside of the classroom. While our degrees hold a lot of weight, applicable experience is equally important. Take any opportunity that you get for leadership experience and use the resources MSU has to offer. Professional development events are held year round, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lastly, don’t sell yourself short.  Be confident, you’re a Spartan!"
– ABM/EEM senior Evan Toth

Get Involved

"MSU is a great place to learn and form friendships. There are so many opportunities here. You just need to look around. Take that step, explore new territories and embrace every opportunity you get along the way, because time does fly."
– Recent ABM alumna Hepsiba Chepngeno 

"Getting involved on and of campus is something I can only highly recommend because it gives you the chance to connect with peers and faculty outside of class on a more personal level."
– FIM senior Fiona Muegge 

"Use your resources and go to things that are out of your comfort zone. That is where you will find a fire that drives you and your passions. Make the connections with professors, students, and clubs, they are going to help you grow as a person and student. You only have so much time here and it is worth taking risks. You are going to fail many times, but instead of going backwards fail forward. Failure will teach you how to pick yourself up and move onto the next challenge. My biggest advice is taking on the challenges."
– EEM/FIM junior Holly Pummell 

"Study abroad! Make college about experiences not just classes (ie conferences, internships, study abroads)."
– Recent ABM alumna Katie Forro 

"Get involved. I know you hear it all the time, but getting involved in clubs and events that take place outside of class is well worth the time put in. I have made endless connections throughout the industry, traveled the country, and even gotten job offers from my involvement at MSU. The network you are able to build at MSU is amazing and will help you create lasting relationships."
– ABM senior Paige Reetz 


Professional (and Personal) Development

"Always look to grow yourself, not only as a student but as a contributing member of society. If you are unsure if you are in the right major or field of study, pick up a list of all majors our university offers, research the ones that sound interesting and see if you can truthfully see yourself working in the area after graduation. Read the list of required classes and if you read the course description and think to yourself “this sounds really interesting or cool!” then you are likely looking at the right place for you. In all, just follow where your interests are and think about how your studies and college experience will make yourself a better you and how you can help others and better society as a whole."
– Recent EEM alumnus Chris Semrinec 

"Choose to be a unifier and not a divider. It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to point to flaws and to criticize. It takes a leader to find a way to bring people together to fix issues. In business we need more uniting leaders and less dividers."
– FIM alumnus Zach Olsen 

"Live. Don’t spend all your time here waiting for the next semester or the next hard class. Don’t spend your days buried in books and research. Don’t ever say you don’t have enough time. There are 24 hours. Everyday. You can do everything and you can have everything you ever dreamed of just not all at once. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Learn to be comfortable in discomfort, that brings growth. Don’t let anyone stop you from what you know you are capable of, not even yourself."
– Recent ABM alumna Alondra Alvizo 

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