Kaylee Hillinger graduated from the Agricultural Production PSM program in 2014 with a focus in Animal Production after earning her Bachelor's degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois. During her undergraduate career, Kaylee realized that her background was heavy in research and science and she wanted to be a more-rounded professional with business knowledge. She states that she, “wanted to be more marketable as a potential employee in the animal health industry.” Kaylee’s internship was with Carthage Innovative Swine Solutions in Carthage, Illinois. She is now a Territory Sales Manager with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. Her advice to students is to “take accountability for yourself, your learning, and your experience.” There are plenty of opportunities to make connections, network and better yourself as a professional if you take the initiative and reach out.
Arshdeep Saroa is a 2013 graduate of the Agricultural Production PSM program, with a focus on Crop Production. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Punjab Agricultural University in India. She chose Illinois PSM because she wanted to serve the life science industry both at the research and business development level. Arshdeep completed her internship with Dr. Carl Bradley’s crop science laboratory where she applied fungicides for efficacy trials and rated plots for parameters such as plant vigor and sudden death syndrome of soybeans. Her work also involved data collection, plot maintenance and processing wheat samples for DON analysis. She is currently working as a synthetic biology applications scientist for Integrated DNA Technologies, the world's largest supplier of custom nucleic acids for academic research, clinical diagnostics, biotechnology and pharmaceutical development. Arshdeep suggests that potential and current students “grab the opportunities as they come. It might not be your dream at the time but it will give you new exposure and experience, which will take you a step closer to your dream destination.”
Eva (Sztechmiler) Brown graduated from the Agricultural Production PSM program, where she specialized in sustainable production. Eva now works for the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District in New York. She formerly held the position of Resource Conservation Specialist, in which she managed the county’s Ash Tree Management project. She oversaw the safe removal of ash-trees and replanting of non-ash trees, managed a $750,000 annual budget, worked with private contractors and businesses, and much more. She credits the PSM program for helping prepare her to take on that role, saying “all of the business fundamentals that we studied under the PSM program better prepared me to successfully manage such a large scale and demanding project.” This role helped her to realize that she enjoyed administrative work over field work, so she has transitioned to the role of Administrative Assistant of the District office, where she supports the agency’s efforts to promote responsible use of resources. “What I really got out of the PSM program was the ability to recognize and create my own opportunities,” Eva says. “Anyone can learn scientific facts or business fundamentals from a book, but built into the program are ‘soft skills’ that are truly the invaluable secret weapon of anyone who wants to be competitive in today's job market.”
Thadd Fosdick is a 2011 graduate of the Agricultural Production PSM program, with a focus in Animal Production. Thadd added to his agriculture knowledge by completing his internship with Pioneer Hybrids as a production intern. His B.S. degree is in Animal Sciences from Illinois. Having a diverse background helps Thadd daily in his current role as Farm Manager for Farmers National Company in Bloomington, Illinois. Thadd oversees the management of agricultural assets for absentee landowners and assists clients with real estate needs. Thadd finds equitable leasing solutions for his clients and operators. He is also an integral member of his family-owned farm, Fosdick Cattle, where they raise and show Limousin and Lim-Flex cattle.
Hayley Cooper graduated from the Illinois PSM program in 2017, where she studied Agricultural Production. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences, she knew that having a master’s degree would enhance her application to veterinary schools, as well as prepare her for the business components of her dream job of owning a mixed animal veterinary practice. “After graduating from the PSM program, I accepted a job with Land O' Lakes, Purina Animal Nutrition, as a Lifestyle Product Specialist, working with farmers on their nutrition programs with their animals. I worked for them for 6 months until I started Veterinary School at the University of Illinois in the fall of 2018.” Hayley plans on graduating from the Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2022.
When asked what advice she would give current PSM students, she says “to network, network, network! To this day, I have gotten all of my amazing internships and jobs by just knowing people. Also, take those risks that might scare you!”