By Kate Sauser
University of Saskatchewan Master’s Student
Yet another summer (a very dry, warm one!) has come and gone and with that, the end of summer employment and back to school for my graduate degree. Within the ag industry, there are vast opportunities to secure summer employment in many different sectors. For me, I spent my summer months working as a Summer Sales Associate with BASF, a well-known ag company that sells InVigor canola seed and various chemicals. I was based out of Moose Jaw, SK, and my territory covered most of the southwest region of Saskatchewan.
Overview of my Position With BASF
With this summer job, I experienced many different aspects of the agriculture industry. I will start this by saying BASF treats their students very well, and I was well equipped with a company truck, phone, iPad, credit card, and laptop (one of the many perks of working a summer job within the agriculture industry!). When I started my position in May, once onboarding was complete, I was handed a list of 25 key growers in my area that I had to work with throughout the summer. Another perk of this position was all the independent work and really being able to make the job how you want it to be.
With the list of 25 key growers, my job was to create specialized crop protection plans with them, help them figure out solutions to best fit their needs, and offer agronomy help as well by scouting their fields for any issues that may arise with our products. To establish good connections with these growers, I would start by introducing myself over the phone, then eventually making my way out to their farm with a lunch and some drinks to talk about all things farm related. This was one of my favourite parts of the job as I got to sit with the farmers and listen to their stories while gaining a better understanding about what their needs and expectations with our products may be. I know going out to farms of strange people you have never met may sound scary, but I found this to be an amazing opportunity to work on social skills and cold-calling skills.
Another key part of my position was attending retail events all around the province for our company. With my retail representative, we would often bring lunches out to different retails that we sold our products to such as Cargill, Richardson, Hawks Agro, and many more. Retail events also included a lot of golf days, so I had to figure out how to swing a club semi-properly and not just Happy Gilmore every swing I take. My advice for all students who are seeking out a summer position: maybe take golf lessons!!
Skills That I Learnt
During the 4 months that I worked as a Sales Associate, I gained many valuable skills that I will carry forward and apply in other parts of my life. My top three skills I learnt were conversational skills, organizational skills, and general product knowledge skills. Conversational skills are very important in this position because you need to have the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone at anytime about literally anything. Usually, farmers love to chat about the weather, so that is a great place to start. Organizational skills were also an essential part of this position because I worked on my own time, which meant I had to organize every single day and create my schedule on my own. If you didn’t stay on top of things, you’d be very behind on your work. Lastly, general product knowledge skills tied everything together that I needed to succeed in this position. By having general product knowledge skills, I was able to sell products to my customers and know exactly what I was talking about to best recommend a product to suit their needs.
Why Summer Positions in the Agriculture Industry?
This is a simple question for me to answer. First, you do not have to come from a farming background to pursue a position in the ag industry. I think it is a great idea for students who don’t have a farming background to pursue agriculture positions because they gain a better understanding for the industry. Most summer positions also hold potential of maintaining a position with that company after you are done your degree. Summer positions are also great exposure to more opportunities; positions in the agriculture industry hold the potential for many worldwide connections. I have found myself making lasting connections in every one of my summer positions that still carry on to this day.
Second, working within the ag industry is gaining experience that will look great on your resume for other positions not only in the ag industry. While there are only two reasons here, these are the main reasons why I would encourage all students, not only those in ag, to pursue summer employment within the ag industry.
Kate is currently a first year Master’s student under Dr. Stuart Smyth’s supervision. She is originally from Churchbridge, SK., where her family has a mixed cattle and grain operation. Her studies will investigate how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration impact sustainability within Saskatchewan. Before joining Dr. Smyth’s team, Kate completed her B.Sc degree in Agribusiness at the University of Saskatchewan in 2023.