Showing livestock today = great interview skills tomorrow

Youth develop outstanding interview skills from showing livestock at county fairs.

Youth livestock shows at county fairs are happening all across Michigan.  Many who attend fairs find their way to the livestock barns to see the animals and take part in all the excitement that show day brings.  Often times youth and adults speak of the hard work and responsibility youth learn from raising and caring for animals.  While that is certainly true, Michigan Statate University Extension would be short-sighted if we said those were the only, or even the primary, life skills taught through 4-H animal projects.  Showmanship skills (presenting your animal to a judge), are not just important in a show ring, but can be used in many facets of life.  For instance, most life skills youth learn through showmanship are also needed when interviewing for internships, colleges and future careers. This series of articles will look at skills needed to be successful in a livestock showmanship class and how using those same skills will help you in interviews and perhaps even help you land your dream job.

First, lets start by talking a little about what showmanship is all about and build a bridge to understand how a life skill can be helpful in the show ring and in a job interview. Showmanship is a competition that tests youth on how well they can show or exhibit their particular animal.  The judge isn’t looking at the animal, but rather evaluating the youth on how well they can present as well as their ability to work with their animal.  There are a lot of important life skills youth must learn and demonstrate to be a good animal showman.  Preparation, neatness, focus, communication, commitment, honesty, courtesy, leadership and responsibility are just a few skills necessary.  We will delve further into these skills in more detail in future articles.

If you are applying for a position, you need to present yourself to the best of your ability.  Many of the same life skills are needed when showing livestock, just applied in a different way.  Your best attributes should be highlighted while clearly communicating your interest, focus, work ethic and knowledge base.  At the same time if you are interviewing someone to work for your company, you expect that the best candidates will show up on time, dress neat and appropriately for the position, come prepared, be focused and engaged, knowledgeable about the job and company, are courteous to others, listen well, follow directions, and are exceptional communicators.

Raising and showing livestock imparts many vital and relevant life skills in today’s youth.  Good livestock showmen make good interviewers.  Are 4-H youth that show livestock more likely to be hired than their peers?  I don’t think we have data to suggest that, but the experiences and skills they are developing certainly give them a competitive edge.  

To learn more about 4-H livestock projects or interviewing skills, contact the 4-H staff person in your county.

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