Office Hours: Insider Tips On Growing A Career in Agriculture With Bayer CropScience

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On September 19th, TalentEgg hosted Office Hours with Bayer CropScience, a world leader providing growers with innovative products and solutions for agriculture and environmental health.

Office Hours is an hour-long live chat with representatives from top employers for TalentEgg members.

Cheryl Probert from Bayer CropScience was on hand to answer your questions about hatching your agriculture career and how to stand out to Bayer CropScience recruiters.

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below.

TalentEgg Rachel: Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Rachel and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Our eggs-pert guest today is Cheryl Probert, a Recruitment Partner at Bayer CropScience.

Over the next hour, you can ask Cheryl your questions about career opportunities at Bayer CropScience, learn how to stand out to Bayer CropScience’s recruiters, and get tips for successfully hatching your agriculture career. You can start submitting your questions now.

Cheryl, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do at Bayer CropScience?

Cheryl Probert: Hi! I’m Cheryl, the Recruitment Partner for Bayer CropScience. I’m based in Calgary, but I only moved here from Toronto in February 2013! I am responsible for recruiting for BCS all across Canada.

We hire about 150 students each year. There are lots of opportunities to grow your career with us. What would you like to know?

TalentEgg Rachel: Thanks! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted in advance:

Manelo, a student at the University of Guelph, asks: “Can you share any tips on succeeding in the application and interview process for the Summer Associate Program?”

Cheryl Probert: To succeed in our selection process, we are looking for a passion for agriculture, a can-do attitude, confidence and some transferable skills – some jobs require a scientific background, and others don’t.

Nathan: Are you looking for student/grads in a particular agriculture stream for different parts of the Summer Associate program or are you just looking for those studying/having studied agriculture?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Nathan – we hire in a variety of different business areas so are looking for different education & skills depending on the job. Basically, any kind of agriculture experience is helpful. It could be through education or through real-life experience, like growing up on a farm.

Chantal: Can having a farming background compensate for not studying agriculture specifically?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Chantal – having a farming background gives a different perspective on the agriculture industry. For some more scientific roles, like research & development, we do need some specific background & education, but for other jobs, farm experience and other education can be a real asset!

Matt R.: Can you tell us about Bayer’s annual scholarship? Who is eligible and what is the process and conditions for applying?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Matt – we offer 5 scholarships worth $5,000 each. They are offered through various universities across Canada. They are intended for students in agriculture programs. Here’s the link to the details on our website: http://www.bayercropscience.ca/our-company/careers/scholarship-program/

David: Hi Cheryl! I’d like to know — what are the different career paths from each of the summer associate program fields? If we were to partake in one, could we transfer or change our path? Or, can we try different areas each summer to explore careers in the industry?

Cheryl Probert: Hi David – great question! We offer Summer Associate positions in our 4 major business areas: Sales, Research & Development, Seeds and Market Development. We have students who spend multiple summer work terms with BCS. Some of them choose to stay in one kind of job year after year, and some choose to try different things to see what they like best. We encourage both approaches! The same applies to summer jobs that turn into something longer term – depending on your interest, education and skills, you could have lots of opportunity to move around within the company.

Guest: Hi Cheryl, any advice for communications professionals?

Cheryl Probert: Hi – our selection & hiring process is the same regardless of what kind of role someone is applying for. We select applicants who meet our selection criteria, and then we apply our standard interview process.

Lindsay: What are you looking for besides good grades when assessing potential candidates? Does volunteer and work experience weigh in? How much?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Lindsay! We are always looking for well-rounded individuals to join the BCS team. Absolutely, volunteer & work experience are an important consideration when we are reviewing applications and deciding who to interview or hire. Team work and fun are critical to our success, so we are looking for new employees who fit in to that kind of culture!

TalentEgg Rachel: Here’s another question that was submitted in advance:

Kaberi, a student at McGill University, asks: “Is it possible to apply to several locations for the Summer Associate Program or do we have to apply locally only? How can we indicate that we are willing to relocate?”

Cheryl Probert: Hi Kaberi – another great question! If there are multiple locations that are of interest to you, by all means I would encourage you to apply to them all! The important thing to remember is that you need to submit one application per job/per location to make sure your application is considered. As for highlighting your ability and willingness to move, that is great info to include in your cover letter!

_lisa: What opportunities do you have besides the summer ones? Do you hire year-round and if so, what kind of roles do you offer?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Lisa – yes, we hire year-round depending on what our business needs are at any given time. It could be in Sales, Marketing or R&D. Any number of opportunities exist that are not specifically for students. Our job postings can be found at: http://www.bayercropscience.ca/our-company/careers/search-opportunities/

Rick: I’m studying agribusiness and am wondering what kind of position best suits my background at Bayer CropScience?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Rick – there are a wide variety of roles at BCS that could potentially be a great fit for an agribusiness grad. The first one that comes to mind is a Sales role, but an agribusiness degree can be applied to many roles in our field, office and production environments!

Joe P.: What do summer associates usually say is their favourite thing about working at Bayer CropScience?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Joe – it’s hard to pick just one thing, but what we consistently find are the top 2 things students like best are the relevant experience and learning they get in their jobs and the amount of fun they get to have at work!

TalentEgg Rachel: Hey Joe! Check out this video to hear what some Bayer CropScience Summer Associates have to say about their experience: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2013/09/19/harvest-career-bayer-cropscience/

Will: What kind of support does Bayer have in place for its student and grad employees to help them in their career? E.g. mentorship, training, etc.

Cheryl Probert: Hi Will – Bayer has a fantastic culture and focus around development for all employees! This includes things like defined paths for certain job families, regular development discussions with your manager, some great courses offered through our internal training group, as well as support for continuing education. We have both formal and informal mentorship opportunities as well.

Tom B.: Are there any Bayer events coming up where I can talk to recruiters face-to-face? Particularly at the University of Alberta?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Tom – We have teams visiting a variety of career fairs across Canada over the next couple of months. Although we are still finalizing details for some of them, I know we will be at the University of Lethbridge, University of Saskatchewan and University of Manitoba in the West, and at the Ontario Agriculture College in the East. The final list of Career Fair activities will be on our website next week so stay tuned!

Christina: I’d love to know about the type of projects I’d be involved in as a Summer Market Development Student, thank you!

Cheryl Probert: Hi Christina – our Market Development students get involved with things like Demonstration Strip Trials, literally “getting your hands dirty” in the fields, collecting data about our different crops, and helping with customer tours & events. It’s a pretty fun summer job!

Greg Little: Does Bayer CropScience value work-life balance for both its interns and full time employees? How is this shown?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Greg – our teams are very busy across all areas of our business, and especially in the summer, during growing season. Our summer associates do put in some long hours, but this is balanced out by some quieter times based on the growing cycle, the weather and planned activities to show our appreciation for everyone’s hard work!

TalentEgg Rachel: Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Maria, a student at Olds College, asks: “What year of students are typically accepted into the Summer Associate Program? Is first, second, third or fourth year preferred?”

Cheryl Probert: Hi Maria – we happily accept applications from, and regularly hire, students at all different levels of education, from first year right through to post-graduate.

Tim: Hello Cheryl, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today! My question is specifically about the sales program. How much emphasis do you place on agriculture knowledge and experience vs. skills like people skills, communication, etc.?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Tim – the key to success in a Sales role is being able to relate to your customer. This requires a balance of agriculture or other technical skills PLUS softer skills like communication and relationship building. If you watch our new video, you’ll see that we hire students both with & without agriculture experience.

TalentEgg Rachel: This seems like a great time for our poll!

What are you hoping to learn from Bayer CropScience today?

  • Details on Bayer CropScience’s Summer Associate Program (25%)
  • Different career paths available at Bayer CropScience (25%)
  • Tips on navigating Bayer CropScience’s application and interview process (13%)
  • Insight into the company culture at Bayer CropScience (38%)

Laurel: In a sales position, would we be working with a range of Bayer products or focus on only one or a few in particular? Also what is the day-to-day like? Are you in an office or in the field most of the time?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Laurel – our Sales folks represent all Bayer CropScience products to our customers, so they get to be well-versed on a variety of subjects from Canola seed to Crop Protection products. A lot of the time is spent out and about, visiting with farmers and with retailers to talk about our products, and to help our customers make the best choices about what to buy to get the best results from their crops. There is some time spent in a local office as well, since every job has an administrative component, but most of it is on the road.

Lily: What sort of people tend to thrive at Bayer CropScience?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Lily – the Bayer CropScience team is awesome! People who thrive here have a great work ethic, are not afraid to challenge the status quo, and are always ready to have fun!

Nicole – UManitoba: Hi Cheryl – are previous summer interns preferred in following years? For instance, if I were to join as this summer would my chances of being hired on next summer be greater (and after I graduate as well)?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Nicole – We are always happy to have students join us who return year after year (and we have lots of them!). It’s always good to have new hires who are new to the company, but it’s also important to have employees who have some experience under their belts. This applies to both summer opportunities as well as longer-term opportunities. As you can see if you watch our videos, we hire lots of former summer students into contract or permanent roles!

Jess: What would you say is unique about Bayer CropScience as an employer?

Cheryl Probert: Hi Jess – I’ve worked for some other big, well-known companies and Bayer is definitely at the top of the list in my books! One of the things I find quite unique is that every employee is educated about, and understands, the corporate strategic goals and how your own role fits into that. I also love the focus on innovation here. Plus, as I’ve said, the team is fantastic!

TalentEgg Rachel: That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Cheryl for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! Cheryl, do you have any final comments?

Cheryl Probert: Thanks Rachel, and to everyone who participated today! We are excited about our recruitment for the 2014 summer work term – please feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or to visit our Student Opportunities career page any time.

TalentEgg Rachel: For even more advice from Cheryl, check out our interview with her in “Application And Interview Tips From A Bayer CropScience Recruiter”: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2013/09/17/application-and-interview-tips-from-a-bayer-cropscience-recruiter/

Bayer CropScience is currently hiring for their 2014 Summer Associate Program. Head to their employer profile on TalentEgg (http://talentegg.ca/employer/bayer-cropscience/) to learn more and apply, and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@BCSCACareers) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/bcscanadacareers) for insider info.

Thanks again for joining us today, TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter (@TalentEgg) and Facebook (facebook.com/TalentEgg) for upcoming Office Hours events!

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