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Career Center

Alllie Marks

K-State graduation year: Fall 2011
Degree: Agronomy-Consulting and Production   
Current employer: Land O’ Lakes/WinField Solutions
Position: Business Development Lead--Sure-Tech Laboratories            

How many times, if any, did you change your major during college?

Once, I started as an Agriculture Economics major.

Describe the process of choosing your major.

I took an agronomy course my first semester and after the first test, the professor wrote on my test “You should be in agronomy”, so I followed his advice. Turns out, he was right!

What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
  • College of Agriculture Ambassadors
  • Wheat State Agronomy Club
  • Kappa Delta Sorority
  • Agriculture Future of America
  • Study Abroad to Argentina
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?

For two summers, I was a field scout for a crop consultant in east-central North Dakota. I also was a seed and agronomy advisor intern for Winfield Solutions covering south central Kansas.

Describe the process of finding your first job.

I was already planning on pursuing a master’s degree at North Dakota State University, but after completing my internship with Winfield Solutions in south central Kansas, I was encouraged to apply for the Winfield Associate program. After going through the interview process and talking with Winfield staff members, I decided to put my master’s degree on hold and gain valuable work experience and perspective.

Briefly describe a typical day at your job.

There really isn’t a typical day. If I’m traveling, I could be giving a presentation, riding along with a Winfield staff member visiting cooperatives talking about the lab, or helping take plant tissue samples. If I’m in the office, I could be working on marketing communication pieces, answering questions from customers, or working with the plant nutrition marketing team. It changes daily.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The best part of my job is all the people I get to meet and the places I get to go. My territory is the entire United States, but just in the few short months I’ve been in my current position, I’ve been to Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, and many other states. I get to talk to Winfield staff, retailers, and growers from across the country and gain their perspective on the ever changing agriculture world around us.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

I don’t actually have an office out of the lab, which is based in Indianapolis, IN. I’m based out of Winfield Solutions’ Shoreview, MN office in order to work closely with the plant nutrition team. So, keeping up with what’s happening in each unit of the lab is sometimes challenging, especially when traveling.

What advice would you give someone interested in your field?

Don’t be afraid to try something different. Don’t limit yourself on what you think you might not like or what you think you might be bad at. Give it a shot, you might find skills you didn’t know you had.

What were the stepping stones that led to your current career?

I started the Winfield Associate program the January after I graduated. The program was 2 years long, the first year working in a cooperative in Valley City, North Dakota learning the retail side of the business and working with growers. The second year was spent shadowing a seed and agronomy advisor in Montana. After the completion of the program, I wanted to get a little closer to the family farm, so I took the position of business development lead for Winfield Solutions’ lab, Sure-Tech Laboratories.

How have any changes in your life situation affected your career path?

I wanted to move closer to family and the farm after I completed the associate program. However, there wasn’t a position available in the sales staff for Winfield Solutions in the area I would have liked. But there was a position as the business development lead for the lab. This wasn’t my area of expertise, but I was willing to learn and challenge myself in this new position. This will only help expand my skill set.

What job have you enjoyed the most and why?

My second year as a Winfield Associate has been the job I enjoyed the most. I got to work with growers as well as retail sellers. I was also very involved in our Answer Plot system where we invited growers and sellers to an educational plot to discuss things like precision agriculture tools, advanced crop nutrition, and adjuvant and nozzle selection education.

What were the major lifestyle changes your first year out of college that made the transition hard from college to the world of work and how did you adapt?

Time management and the importance of the work/social balance. In college, you could pull all-nighters and wait until the last minute to do an assignment, not in the real world. There are others depending on your timeliness and ability to get things done. Take advantage of technology that’s out there to help you organize and manage. But, remember to schedule a little fun; don’t work your life away!

What was the one thing you did in college that has had the most impact on your life or career?

I was an out-of-stater, so joining as many clubs and organizations as my scheduled allowed was the best decision I made in college. It gave me the opportunity to meet people I might not have met otherwise and gaining that networking experience early on always helps.

What tips do you have for current undergrads about opportunities they should definitely take advantage of while they are in school?

Go to class and talk to your professors—they are a wealth of knowledge and are in the teaching business for a reason. They WANT to help you. You just have to meet them half way.

Was there a specific class you remember that sparked your interest in your career direction?

Crop Growth and Development with Dr. Shroyer. Every class he would put up actual case studies from the field and have us ask discovery questions to figure out what was going on in the field. This allowed us to really sharpen our field investigation skills and our ability to have an open dialogue with someone, which has beneficial with every job in my career.

Was there a specific person in college who had a significant impact on your life or career?

Dana Minihan, who was the agronomy academic advisor at the time I was at K-State, she impacted me greatly. Whether I needed help revising a resume, or just needed to talk about life, she always had time for me and gave great advice.

What didn't college teach you that you wish you would have known before you started your career?

General “grown-up” things. How to do your own taxes, how do mortgages work, etc. I know K-State has programs set up to help with these questions, but it’s about getting a person to take advantage of these services.