Professional Development

Young professionals can make lots of great connections through clubs and classes, but one of the most valuable tools when looking for a job is the network you create. We encourage all our students to get to know not just faculty members, but other professionals in their field of choice. Look below for some of the great opportunities in the area for professional development.


Attending conferences is an easy way to connect with people who share your professional interests. They allow you to learn about key issues and developments in your field, meet people and organizations who share your interests, and gain insight from the discussions generated there. Some local conferences are:

Want to attend a conference, but not sure about the cost? The Plant Science and Food Systems majors offer undergraduate scholarships up to $250. See the Plant Science or Food Systems websites for more information. Graduate students can talk to their adviser about funding a trip to a professional conference.

Mentor Program

The CFANS mentor program connects students with professionals working in their areas of interest. Through this relationship, students explore career options, learn about different companies and organizations, and get suggestions on how to better prepare for the working world. Each year the program matches more than 150 students with a mentor in their field whom they can ask questions of and learn more about their field from the inside.

Career Fairs

Attending a career fair gives you a chance to meet and speak with a wide variety of employers that are looking for new graduates to hire. Many career fairs theme themselves to a specific sector of the workforce, which means they’re also looking for someone with your background. Some career fairs our students benefit most from are the Ag, Food, and Business Career Fair in September, the Government and Nonprofit Career Fair in October, and the Environmental Internship & Career Fair in February. For more information on career-related events, visit Career and Internship Services.

Membership Organizations

Joining an organization gives you more than just a great networking opportunity; membership will often provide access to journals, information on your field, discounted conference access, and scholarship opportunities. Many organizations will even offer free or discounted membership while you’re an undergraduate or graduate student. There are many different organizations out there depending on your field and interests, but many students studying horticulture benefit from participating in the American Society for Horticultural Science.


An internship is a required part of both the plant science and food systems majors, and it’s a great resource for growing professionally. Your internship can help you figure out an area of horticulture you want to go into or even lead to a job after graduation. There are a variety of internships available locally, in the U.S., and across the world. Keep an eye on the weekly Twig Bender newsletter and check GoldPass for information on a variety of internship opportunities.