Ringside to Job Interview: 15 Ways Showing Livestock Prepares You for a Career

We are very pleased to publish this guest post from Marisa Linton. Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock, and currently lives on her family’s small farm in Mount Olive, NC. She has a passion for agriculture, and is an agricultural blogger, communication consultant, and photographer.

School, parents, coaches, teachers, internships, mentors, events–these have probably helped develop skills and attributes that make you a desirable candidate for a job. If you have ever grown up showing livestock, you can add that to the list of impacts that helped train you for your career.

From the barn at home to the show ring, many lessons are learned. Whether you realize it or not, showing livestock has developed skills and attributes that will help you succeed in getting a job.  Here are 15 attributes that will help you in almost any job…they also make great talking points in an interview!

  1. Decisiveness: Making command decisions can be tough. Showing livestock forces you to make a decision and learn to live with it. Buying a show animal does not typically come with a money-back guarantee. You have to be committed to your decision and make the best of it, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Patience: There will always be that one cow, sheep, pig, or other animal that seems to have a stubborn streak as wide as the Mississippi River. No matter how hard you work with that animal, it always seems to have better ideas and a mind of its own. Here is where a dose of patience comes in. Just as that stubborn animal takes patience, so will many instances in your job. Co-workers may not work at the same speed you do, and that means exercising patience.Ringside to Job 1
  3. Leadership: When showing livestock, you are literally leading the animal. Now, this doesn’t mean you attach a halter to someone at work, but it does give you a sense of leadership. It goes beyond just leading an animal, though, it gives you practice at being a leader and role model to other showmen. The younger showmen start to look up to you. In many jobs, you have to be a leader. It may be in a project, a crisis, or just as an everyday part of your job description, but that leadership started with a halter and lead rope.
  4. Teamwork: Sometimes, you have to take a step back from the leadership position. Livestock may not be the brightest in the world, but they can still teach us something. It is all about that teamwork. When showing, you and your animal become a team, and that takes cooperation, trust, friendship (hopefully), dedication, and perhaps a few disagreements along the way. The working world is about being on a team. When you feel frustrated with your team, remember your showing days. Just be careful not to insinuate that working with your co-workers is like working with your ornery heifer!
  5. Hard Work: Let’s admit it–raising and showing livestock is hard work. Blood, sweat, and tears come to mind with the added manure and dirt, but it is always worth it in the end. Showing livestock teaches you the value of hard work. Employers like that.Ringside to Job 2
  6. Detail Oriented: Anyone who has had to clip an animal for show, knows about detail. Not a hair can be out of place. It also can’t take an obscene amount of time. Efficiency is super important too. The combo of efficient details will catch an employer’s eye.
  7. Confidence: It takes confidence to enter a ring with 300 pound pigs running around, or animals that are 5 times your size. Confidence is also required when talking to the judge or exhibiting the animal you have worked with so hard. Interviews or pitching projects require confidence. Chances are, showing livestock has done that for you.
  8. Public Speaking: Talking to your animal doesn’t exactly qualify as public speaking, but talking to a judge may. Or, how about being handed the microphone in the middle of a show and being asked to share about your project. Don’t even mention the workshops you get recruited for to teach how to show livestock. It all prepares you for interviews and your future career talking to people, giving speeches, and making presentations.Ringside to Job 3
  9. Success Driven: Winning isn’t everything, but it sure is nice. Showing livestock has probably taught you to always strive to be better every year and go for the champion title. If something goes wrong, you become a problem solver and fix it. You are a sponge, constantly learning from others and researching ways in which you can make your animal better or yourself as a showman. You may take second graciously, but you still wish to do better. When it comes to a job, companies want employees that are just as devoted to success as they are. That’s where you come in
  10. Dealing with Disappointment: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, show results don’t go your way. Likewise, jobs don’t always go your way; however, showing livestock has taught you how to deal with such disappointment with grace.
  11. Humbleness: On the flipside, showing also teaches you how to remain humble, even if you got the belt buckle. A humble spirit goes a long way in work relationships.
  12. Flexibility: Animals are unpredictable. It is just that simple. That leaves you needing to be flexible. Perhaps more unpredictable than animals are people, leaving you, once again, needing to be flexible. Good news, that moody goat taught you how to be more flexible than a rubber band.
  13. Ethics: There are a lot of ways to cheat in the show world, but hopefully, showing livestock taught you how to be ethical in how you treated the animal, presented the animal, and participated in the contests. Honesty is attractive and important in any career.Ringside to Job 4
  14. Responsibility: You are not just responsible for yourself, but also for your animal when showing. That animal relies on you for feed, water, shelter, and medication. While we hope your co-workers are not that dependent on you, there are many responsibilities you have to uphold. It is important that you pull your own weight, and raising livestock has ingrained this in you.
  15. Passion: For many, showing livestock becomes their heartbeat. It is a passion that they pour their heart into. Passion tends to shine through, and employers will notice that. When they see passion, that bleeds over to your job performance. Chances are, it will, although maybe not quite as strongly as it did in the show ring.


Marisa Linton is about to graduate NC State University with a Master’s of Science in Communication with a concentration in agriculture. For more from Marisa, stay tuned for future blog posts here on AgGrad, or visit her blog


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.