Internship Sparks Major Change in Career

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Austin was set on pursuing a career working with production animals, but his strengths lead him to agricultural economics.

12.06.17
Four years ago, Purdue University sophomore Austin Blackwell was focused on earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science. One day, he heard a recruitment representative from Farm Credit Mid-America speak to his career development class about job opportunities at Farm Credit. In conjunction with the class, each student had completed a Predictive Index (PI) questionnaire, which indicates where a person’s career interests might lie. After the presentation, students could speak with the recruiter one-on-one to find out more.

“In all honesty, I went because one of my friends wanted to talk with the recruitment representative,” says Austin, who grew up on a small farm in Trafalgar, Indiana, and was set on pursuing a career working with production animals. “When I walked in to talk with her, she said, ‘I’m really glad you came.’ She told me that my PI was a good fit for a loan officer position with Farm Credit.”

Soon after, Austin interviewed for a summer internship at the Farm Credit office in Columbus, Indiana, and a few weeks later he was offered the position.

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Testing the waters
Austin calls his Farm Credit internship “a great experience,” with two established Farm Credit team members, Brent Ditmars and John Evans, serving as mentors. “John took me on farm calls and introduced me to a lot of different people,” says Austin. “He also showed me what he was doing in his position. I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and found that I liked that side of the internship, in addition to what we did every day.”

When he returned to Purdue that fall, Austin switched his major to agricultural economics.

Reimagining a career path
Austin returned to Farm Credit the summer of his junior year through an internship in the Franklin, Indiana, office. It was another positive experience. After graduating in 2015, Austin returned to the Franklin office, where he works today as a loan officer covering Hancock and Shelby counties.

“Our office handles a lot of real estate loans, equipment loans, operating loans,” says Austin. “We provide a high level of service. We’ll run out to pick up paperwork from customers, for example, so the farmer can stay and do what needs to be done on the farm.”

Austin enjoys being out on the field working directly with customers. “When you go out to meet someone for the first time, it’s very rare that they don’t want to show you their operation and what they have,” he says. “They’re very proud of it. So to get out and see the farms and interact with the farmers is definitely my favorite aspect of the job.”

Opportunities and rewards
Austin believes Farm Credit offers the salary and benefits of a major corporation, with the type of family atmosphere and camaraderie found in smaller businesses. “Farm Credit is a large organization, but it feels a lot closer and more tight-knit than a big business might. Farm Credit also offers opportunities for growth, such as leadership training, which I really appreciate.”

Austin has found that the face-to-face interactions he and his colleagues have with customers help foster an increased level of trust and understanding between all parties. “It’s very satisfying to go out to a farm and see a new grain bin, knowing you helped the farmer finance that and hearing about how helpful it is,” says Austin. “It could be a grain bin or a tractor or even a new farm.

“It’s great to drive down the road and know you helped someone finance that operation. That you provided the tools and advice that enabled them to reach their goals.”

To learn more about careers at Farm Credit Mid-America, visit our careers page.

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