For Samantha Otten, the crops and farm equipment of her youth continued to take root as she pursued a degree in sales and marketing with a minor in farm management at Purdue University. While at Purdue, Samantha served as president of Sigma Alpha, an agricultural sorority, as well as vice president of the National Agri Marketing Association. She also served as director of engagement and innovation for Purdue Student Government and as the Purdue Collegiate FFA officer. A 2019 graduate, Samantha currently works as a retail sales development specialist for Bane-Welker Equipment and helps the corporation recruit high school and college students for internships and sponsorships aimed at bringing more talented individuals into the ag sector.
Land Values sat down with Samantha to talk about what it’s like working in agriculture, why getting involved in college student organizations are important and how to get more women interested in agriculture.
Land Values: What’s a typical day like for you?
Samantha Otten: I spend about half of my time at my desk, half of my time traveling. We do a lot of internal training because we have 12 locations and I work in training and employee development. I also recruit on college campuses and line up our interns for the summer. We have six interns coming in 2021. This past fall, I spoke to over 30 different high schools about the career opportunities that we have as well as internships and sponsorships available for students. Sponsorships are geared toward high school students interested in pursuing post-secondary training in diesel mechanics. Internships are for college students interested in sales and marketing.
LV: How did you know you wanted to go into agriculture sales and marketing?
SO: When I was at Purdue, I had a couple of different internships that really helped steer me in the right direction. One was a sales internship with Bane-Welker Equipment between my freshman and sophomore years. And as a sophomore/junior, I completed an internship with John Deere Corporation in marketing and training. That’s when I gathered that working for a corporation was for me. I like being around customers, which I definitely get working in the dealership, and I like being where the action is happening. So far, it’s been great and met my expectations.
LV: How did your involvement with Sigma Alpha benefit you?
SO: Sigma Alpha Sorority is a professional agricultural sorority, which means it’s a bit different than other sororities in that it’s founded on leadership and professional development. These skills are really important for young women to have. I was able to serve on multiple committees and in various offices and those roles helped me gain leadership experience that I’m able to apply in my current role with Bane-Welker. I also serve on the national leadership team as a chapter consultant and work with 10 chapters throughout the country to help them in their mission. Being a member of the organization has also provided me with an amazing network of friends who have similar career aspirations and goals.
LV: As a recent college grad in her first job post-graduation, have you run into any challenges being a woman in the profession or in general within the agriculture industry?
“I would say that the agriculture industry could always use more women.”-Samantha Otten
SO: It can be a bit challenging being one of the only women in the room during meetings. But I think that as long as we, as women, support other women in the agriculture industry, mentor them and help them along, that scarcity of women in these roles will lessen.
LV: Do you see yourself in this same role in the next five years?
SO: I’m pretty invested in the farm equipment industry and I have a lot of different experience that helps me out. I know I’ll stay in the agriculture industry because that’s what I enjoy, what I was born and raised in, and that’s what I’d like my kids to be involved in one day, too.
LV: Do you have any advice for women interested in pursuing an agriculture career?
SO: I would suggest supporting other women every opportunity you get. This includes female colleagues, business owners and skilled professionals. I think that as long as we work to support one another, we’ll continue to gain momentum within the industry. And, in college, find an organization like Sigma Alpha, where you can be around like-minded women pursuing similar career paths within the agriculture field.
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