Yale Undegraduate Career Services

Food and Agriculture

Career Overview

You’re interested in food and agriculture, but not sure how or where to begin or even what your options are? There are a wide range of career options in the culinary and agriculture fields, impacting areas including sustainable agriculture, nonprofits, education, culinary arts, media, and more. Within these fields there are professionals employed in areas including agricultural production, event planning, communications, marketing, operations management, education, human resources, product development, merchandising, and more. The information below highlights a few of the many types of opportunities within this diverse and exciting industry.

When you think of the agricultural field, the career option that may come to mind first is farmer. This is of course an option, and there are many volunteer opportunities, internships, and apprenticeships that will train you on the ins and outs of growing, raising, and harvesting food. Beyond farming, there are many other careers growing out of the sustainable foods movement. As the movement continues to grow, there will be an increased demand for dedicated professionals skilled in advocacy, marketing, finance, operations and strategic planning. Consider the markets that sell and promote organic products, such as Whole Foods, as well as the nonprofit organizations that provide education on and promote organic farming, such as Edible Schoolyards. These companies and organizations have staff members doing everything from managing the finances to developing educational workshops.  There are many ways to make an impact in the agricultural field; consider what you enjoy doing, the skills you have to offer, and how you want to apply these skills in this varied sector.

Do you take pictures of and tell elaborate stories about your dinner? Are you obsessed with The Food Network? Do you dream of spending time in the Bon Appetit test kitchen? Culinary media may be just the career area for you. From food writing to magazine production, web design to photography, television programming to ad sales, there are a wide variety of career options within the culinary media field.  If you’d rather be the chef cooking the food, or would like to apply your business savvy to managing the restaurant group, there are opportunities for that as well. Depending on your prior skills and knowledge in the kitchen you may need additional training before you are able to work in the kitchen. Programs through the International Culinary Center or the Culinary Institute of America can help you develop the skill set you need.

For those committed to applying your commitment to sustainable agriculture, hunger and food security to effecting change on a global scale, consider careers with an NGO or government organization. There are extensive non-profit organizations and NGO’s focused on issues ranging from food security to nutrition, as well as helping to educate individuals around the globe on sustainable farming practices. Within these organizations there are a variety ways to contribute, including writing and editing publications, fundraising, developing programming, compiling research, creating marketing and promotional materials, and more.

Getting Started

Jump right in! The best way to begin exploring careers in sustainable agriculture and farming, as well as advocacy and education, is to get involved. Volunteer at the Yale Farm, or any farm in the New Haven area or near home during breaks. Urban and community farms and non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers to help with their work. Get involved with WWOOF and spend time working at an organic farm anywhere around the globe. This will give you experience and exposure that can help you land a summer or post-graduate internship or apprenticeship, and will help you begin developing a network of like-minded people who you can turn to for recommendations, advice and referrals.

Building a career in culinary media takes persistence. It can be difficult to break into mainstream publications, but while networking to develop connections at these publications it’s essential to write.  Writing for on-campus publications, blogging, and volunteering to write articles and restaurant reviews for local newsweeklies and websites can help you hone your skills and get published samples of your work. For those interested in broadcast media, developing writing skills is equally valuable, and will help you demonstrate your knowledge of the culinary world and ability to effectively present information in an interesting manner to your target audience.

Restaurant groups often times have management training internships and post-graduate programs to help you learn the business. At well-known restaurant groups these will be competitive. Small restaurant groups, or individual restaurants, may not have established programs or internships; you may need to approach them directly, letting them know what you have to offer and how you can help, to see what opportunities they may have available. As with other areas, networking with alumni and professionals in the culinary world can help you learn about opportunities that may not get advertised.

Job and Internship Resources

Training Programs and Short Term Opportunities

General Resources

Sample Employers

Farming/Agriculture, Advocacy and Education

Culinary Arts/Restaurant Groups

Culinary Media

Culinary Festivals

Food Policy and Food Security