Showing livestock today = great interview skills tomorrow: The power of knowledge

Being knowledgeable about your 4-H animal project, the prospective position and employer will elevate you to the top of the class!

Youth and adults often speak of the hard work and responsibility learned from raising and caring for animals.  While that is certainly true, Michigan State University Extension knows those are not the only life skills taught through 4-H animal projects.  Showmanship skills, presenting your animal to a judge, are not just important in a show ring, but can be used in many facets of life.  For example, most life skills youth learn through showmanship are also needed when interviewing for internships, colleges and future careers. In this article, we will continue to look at the skills needed to be successful in a livestock showmanship class and how using those same skills will help youth in job interviews, and help them land their dream career.

Knowledge is power: This age old saying is true both in the showing and in job interviews.  One aspect of showmanship that can be overlooked, but can also be the tie breaker that determines who is first and who is second, is knowledge.  Many showmanship judges will approach youth in a livestock showmanship class and ask a few questions.  The questions may be about the animal the youth is exhibiting (breed, weight, gender), management of the animal (diet, housing, health) or even about the animal industry (meat quality, price per pound).  Judges expect that youth showing an animal will understand what type of animal they have, how to feed and care for it.  If the basic questions are answered well, then the judge will often times ask more questions.  If a question is open ended, “tell me about this animal’s diet,” the answer should start by telling the judge the most important things they should know. Also take the opportunity to share other facts about the diet or feeding strategies to highlight the extent of your knowledge in this area.  Youth who are knowledgeable about their animal and the animal industry show the judge that they have been involved and have taken the time to study, learn and grow.  Being a good showman also means being a knowledgeable owner.

Prospective employers will also ask questions to better understand what knowledge, skills and experiences you bring to the table.  Ideally, education and experiences have equipped youth with the knowledge and skills needed to be considered a qualified candidate for the position they apply for. Being knowledgeable about the position and the company itself is also a really important step in preparing for an interview.  Besides reading the position descriptions, take some time to learn more about the company, their missions, goals and aspirations.  Research current partnerships and endeavors the company is involved in, where their offices are located and what skills they are most interested in employing.  Being knowledgeable about the company will let the employer know that you don’t just have the basic skills to do the job, but you are knowledgeable and interested in them specifically and have what it takes to be successful in their company. 

Raising and showing livestock instills many vital and relevant life skills in today’s youth.  Good livestock showmen make good job interviewers, giving them a competitive edge in the future workplace.  

To learn more about 4-H livestock projects or interviewing skills, contact the 4-H staff person in your county.

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