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Stop Asking 'What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?'

by Emily McVey | Aug 05, 2021

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

The dreaded default question that inevitably came up around every holiday dinner table and seemingly every conversation I had with an elder growing up. While my mom probably wished I had a well-thought-out and sophisticated answer, the truth was I had NO CLUE!

To some, my response might have seemed less than ambitious, but the truth was I didn't know my options or the possibilities. I don't think my feelings and lack of knowledge of what my options were unique.

Growing up, my mom was a nurse rising the corporate ladder into healthcare administration and my father had built a successful career with the Air Force. I had tremendous respect for both of my parents' careers but knew with 100% certainty that I was not interested in either pathway.

How can you aspire to a career that you don't know exists?

How do we expect people to dream if they don't know what to dream about? How do we promote opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds if they cannot see individuals with similar experiences as them currently represented in an industry?  

As society moves further away from the farm, there is an overwhelming disconnect between consumers and their food. And while a rising number of households own a pet, many pet parents don't understand the full value chain of products, services and companies that ensure our beloved companions remain healthy.

This disconnect coupled with a lack of career awareness resources for youth, parents and educators leaves our industry vulnerable to future workforce shortages and recurring diversity challenges in the pipeline of next-generation leaders.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Within every challenge lies an opportunity waiting to be seized.

Telling the animal health industry's story to the next generation of leaders has never been more important. We have an opportunity and responsibility to engage the next generation of dreamers, doers, thinkers and leaders on our industry's robust and diverse career options. To fully seize this opportunity, we must continue to work collaboratively and begin to cast a wider net, reaching and tapping into networks and organizations that we’ve never touched before.

As part of our workforce development and DEI initiatives, the Animal Health Corridor, in coordination with the industry, will be taking over the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Instagram account.

Utilizing #WeAreAnimalHealth, the takeover will give MANRRS students a peek behind the curtain, allowing them to hear directly from individuals working in animal health and explore the diversity of companies that make up the global animal health industry.

Please follow along and join us August 24-26 as we story tell our industry and the diversity of individuals, careers and companies that contribute to our industry’s mission of improving the health and lives of individuals and animals.

Be sure to connect with MANRRS on Instagram and feel free to share your story by utilizing  #WeAreAnimalHealth.

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