02 Sep Overcoming Obstacles in you Agricultural Career with Gustavo Cruz
A man of many talents, Gustavo Durante Cruz is not someone who wears the challenges that he has overcome in his career to become a Dairy Scientist for Purina Mills. A small town native of Brazil, Gustavo overcome language barriers, international borders, facing the fears of networking, and many other obstacles to get where he is today.
With the help of his go-get’em attitude, some classic tunes by George Strait, capitalization on internship opportunities and networking connections – Gustavo has forged his path from Brazil to the United States with an unshaking and admirable tenacity forming this inspirational story. The tips he gives from his experience can help any person, no matter where they are in their career, in getting the most out of opportunities by continuously learning.
Getting to the United States; Internships, Scholarships and Risk
Gustavo’s proactive ability to ask for opportunities and then make the most of them is a recurring theme in his career story. After completing coursework in both his sophomore and junior years of college in Brazil, he asked each professor for an internship opportunity in their fields that interested him. Neither of these internships provided financial compensation but Gustavo considered it a form of favor to be able to learn from these great professors.
Applying for scholarship programs to provide financial aid from the state to support their research, Gustavo found that most of the papers were in English, a language he didn’t know.
“There was no Google translator, I had to look at dictionaries and search, ask people – it was all very frustrating!” Gustavo recalls. This led his desire to attend school in the United States to learn english.
College Acceptance: Taking a Risk
Using the list of reference authors, typically professors, found at the end of research papers, Gustavo created an excel spreadsheet of 100 professors. After locating all of their email addressed, he contacted them about the opportunity for schooling in the U.S.
Four people responded.
One of these four professors came to Brazil to speak at a conference where Gustavo’s initiative allowed him the opportunity to connect and network with him. The professor told him that he would see him in January of 2005.
How did Gustavo not give up with a new country, language barriers, and more?
Moving in with a young family of Chilean descent, he found himself riding his bike one hour each way, twice a day, to the livestock research facility at his new university – University of California Davis.
His response? “It was very good exercise!”
An opportunity to be a part of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity led Gustavo to a new home full of people his age, similar agricultural interests, an immersion into the English language and American culture.
“I learned English and the American culture from a fraternity,” Gustavo says with a laugh. “People always laugh when I tell them that!”
“I was so happy with what I was doing, I was so sure it was the right thing. I remember I had a 103 degree fever and I had to bike [two hours], it was raining and I was miserable, [but] when I went to do my work – I was very happy,” Gustavo explains in a scenario that sums up his tenacity to not give up and infectious positivity.
How do you network?
General Networking: Don’t look at your phone
Being aware of the environment that you are in and the people that are around you is key. It doesn’t matter if you are in an airport or a science conference, you have to be aware. If you are spending time on your phone you are missing an opportunity. Someone could be passing you that could be a big part of your network if you weren’t looking down.
At a scientific conference or meeting, “I can’t emphasize enough, and don’t take this in the wrong way, you don’t make friends drinking milk!” Says Gustavo.
You have to socialize. You don’t have to go get drunk, but to build true connections you have to go outside those meeting rooms and have lunch, coffee, breakfast, dinner, etc. Build friendships and connections.
Two Ways to Network at a Conference
- Randomly, you never know who you may come across.
- Plan ahead of who will be at the conference that you want to meet, whether a speaker or an attendee. Use the mentality that “these people need to know who I am,” and do you best to start a conversation with them about who you are, what you are working on and asking about their projects and career in turn.
Keys to Employment Success Besides Networking
Positivity & Good Attitude
“People would rather hire someone who knows less but is positive than someone who knows a lot but is negative. Be positive about things, have a positive attitude, and don’t let negativity drag you down,” explains Gustavo.
You need to be able to adapt to your environment, how you do things, and continue to challenge yourself to learn and be motivated to learn. If you don’t like to learn, you are going to be in trouble.
Learning New Skill Sets
You cannot just be doing the same thing that you were doing before. You need to keep pushing yourself to grow and learn new skills and concepts whether that is through colleague relationships, webinars, conferences, lectures, etc.
Connecting with Gustavo:
Build your networking career with Gustavo by sending him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling him at (530) 959-0500.
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