Establishing Yourself Quickly in a New Ag Career with Stephen McBride

Insurance might not be something you’re super passionate about—and maybe not something you’ve ever associated with agriculture—but no matter what your passions are, being successful in your future career is important to everybody. It certainly is to Stephen McBride, and that’s why he’s here to share what he’s learned about agriculture, career advice, and insurance with the AgGrad community.

The professional world is different from college

That might sound like a no-brainer, but Stephen thinks that failing to fully understand this difference is a big issue for young professionals and it can cause their careers to stagnate when they should be soaring. While college teaches you a little bit of responsibility, Stephen points out, “You can still skip class in college. You can’t skip work or you’ll be out of a job.” This can be problematic for students who may have developed unhealthy work habits in college and are now struggling with a more restrictive environment.

To fix that, Stephen suggests learning everything you can about the world of your new job, and above all, find out exactly what’s expected of you. If there are certain policies and codes of conduct in your office, learn those. Know when you’re supposed to be there and what you need to do while you’re there instead of figuring it out on the fly since that might lead to unnecessary mistakes. He also notes that in college, you still have people guiding you by telling you when to go to class, which classes to go to, and when you have to turn homework in. Your new job will expect you to be self-monitored and self-motivated, so adjusting your personal expectations and work ethic before you start your new job is vital.

Learn from your co-workers

It’s easy to feel pressured to act tough and confident in a new job, but Stephen says that admitting you’re a clueless newbie can be a bigger asset than you might think. No matter where you’re working, you’ll be surrounded by people who have worked here longer and are more successful, and instead of being intimidated, treat their experience as a resource! The best way to find out how you can be successful is to learn from their success, so look for things your co-workers are doing well and ask them to share their tips with you. See if you can take notes while they interact with a customer. Watch how they do their jobs and absorb all the little tips and tricks that will help you to do yours.

Once you’ve established a good baseline recipe for success, alter that information into a formula that works for you. Everybody’s different, so after you learn the basic keys to success, spend time and effort into adapting them into your own unique style. Because the best way to be successful in any field is to learn all you can and stay true to you. Stephen has found this especially practical in his job because by absorbing his co-workers’ knowledge, he’s managed to avoid rookie mistakes that might cost him a sale. Instead of fumbling with answers he’s too new to know, Stephen now has an insider advantage that allows him to focus on his sales pitch and connect with a customer right away.

Be passionate about what you do

Being passionate about insurance might sound tough, but Stephen has a cure for the bureaucracy blues. While he knows insurance isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, he likes to think of himself as an educator whose job it is to help people. Instead of focusing on the red tape behind insurance policies, Stephen concentrates on how life insurance can help a family in the event of an unexpected death or how car insurance can help replace your car in an accident. Although you might not use your insurance every day, when you suddenly need it, it’s a big help and that’s what makes the difference for Stephen.

He also enjoys the education aspect of his job, because as he points out, most people don’t know a lot about insurance. If you only have it because you’ve been told you need it for your house and car, you might not know much about how it can help you or if you even have the right policy for your needs. That’s why Stephen loves working with people to find plans that work best for them, because whether or not he makes a sale, he’s still improved someone’s life. And whether you’re selling insurance or working on a farm, finding what makes your work unique and being passionate about that makes all the difference in the world.

And if you think agriculture and insurance don’t go together, prepare to be surprised! There’s a whole new world out there with opportunities in insurance, ag sales, and ag policy analysis!

If you’d like to learn more about a career in farm insurance or just get career tips, you can connect with Stephen on Twitter @McBrideStephen and Instagram @mcbridestephen.

If you’d like to learn more about a career in insurance or just get career tips, you can connect with Stephen on on social media:



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Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.