As an International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD) undergraduate I had the chance to participate in a vast array of opportunities. Each one taught me something valuable, and all contributed to my future successes. My work on a farm in France informed my understanding of different regulatory frameworks for producers and food manufacturers; my time at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Equatorial Guinea gave me practical perspectives in international development that I apply when studying international public law; and my Cornell in Washington internship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped me understand governmental agencies and the breadth and limits of their work.
After graduating from the IARD program, I decided to pursue a law degree at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. My IARD experiences have allowed me to methodically approach legal questions and consider the consequences of their solutions with a global perspective. Upon graduation from law school, I will continue working in food law as an associate at Keller and Heckman LLP.
As I look back on my IARD experience, my advice to students is to develop marketable skills through coursework and experience. This could mean language proficiency, research design, organizing and summarizing data, lab skills in the hard sciences, or policy/legislative research. Theory-based discussion classes are valuable in their own right, but balance those with skills-based classes, research, or field experience. When you graduate, you should tell a potential employer not only what you know of the subject matter, but your specific skills that can achieve the organization’s goals.
- Get off-campus and start networking!
- Don’t let expenses stop you from any experience (IARD, CALS, the Einaudi Center, and student organizations like Alpha Zeta offer lots of scholarships and grants)
- Intern or study abroad (or both!)
- Do whatever interests you - IARD’s Agriculture in Developing Nations and Cornell in Washington worked well for me!
The IARD major is what you make it! Plan ahead and you will be surprised at how much you can fit into four years.
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