FIELD OR OFFICE? WHERE DO YOU BELONG?

Office CubicleFarm jobs and office jobs are almost polar opposites.  Non-ag folks cringe at the thought of working outside every day, while I know many farmers who couldn’t imagine waking up, commuting into town, and sitting at a desk for 8 hours.  While there are some similarities between farm jobs and office jobs, there are also some big differences.  Here are some of the top differences I found between office jobs and farm jobs.

 1. Having a boss vs. being your own boss 

We’ve all had to put in our time under a boss we didn’t get along with—if you haven’t, count your blessings!  Having a strict, mean, rude boss can make going to work something you dread.  Farmers have the luxury of being their own boss.  They are the ones making the vital decisions about their job. There’s no one else to answer to, no hoops to jump through as they try to climb up the corporate ladder.

Dow Image 2. Learning company history vs. knowing your family history 

Learning about the company’s history is one of the tips I’ve heard over and over from professors.  You have to do some research and know your stuff before going in for an interview or the first day on a job.  For many farmers, this is a no brainer! Knowing the history of their job is as easy as knowing their family tree.  Family farmers have worked alongside their family for generations—the history of their job is in the fields they farm and the barns they work in.

3. Working weekdays, 9-5 vs. working every day, all hours

Office jobs have set hours that some people crave—there’s a time you come in, a time you eat lunch, and a time you pack up and go home. For farmers, this is very different.  A farmer’s day begins as the sun rises and ends when the daylight ends—sometimes later if there is still work to be done.  And farmers don’t take two days off for the weekend or countdown the days until a holiday closes the office.  Farmers work every day, long past the normal 8-hour workday.

 4. Creating something on a computer vs. creating something with your own hands 

Hands in SoilPerhaps the most rewarding thing about being a farmer is bringing life to another being, whether it is a plant or an animal.  There is nothing quite like seeing a newborn calf after you help bring it into the world.  Or seeing the crops that you tended to for all those hours growing tall and healthy in your field.  It’s a feeling you just can’t get in an office cubicle.

Office jobs are great for some people, and not so great for others—to each his own, as the saying goes.  Our world can’t have one without the other; there are even many times when agriculture and office jobs go hand in hand.  Farming is a job unlike any other—a job where nothing is for sure, where often times you put in much more than you are likely to get out—but it’s job that I can’t imagine living without.

Barn Picturesydney laySydney Lay
Southern Illinois University student

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