Young Alum of the Month: Shawn Cogdill

Shawn Cogdill
Title and Company: 
Business Development Manager/Financial Analyst at Farmers Cooperative Company (FC)
Dunlap, IA
Major and Graduation Date: 
Agricultural Systems Technology (Agribusiness Management Specialization) & Minor in Entrepreneurial Studies, December 2005
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: 

I spend a lot of my time analyzing departmental financials and operational data and asking questions about what I find. My goal is to continue to improve business practices. I also get involved with various projects like in-depth competitor analysis, merger feasibility studies, and return on capital investment opportunities. Currently I am focusing on an area of the company that has experienced rapid growth and is facing somewhat of an industry downturn due to recent increased commodity prices. This allows me to spend a lot more time with the people running our operations rather than only looking for improvement opportunities from a purely financial perspective.

What you like most about your job/position: 

I really enjoy how much I get to learn from top management in my company. FC has a unique open-door, question-asking culture that allows our people to learn and grow every day. I also like the variety in my job from day-to-day and the flexibility and autonomy I'm given in my work.

What advice would you give to current students: 
  1. Never Stop Learning!

    You've got an excellent start at ISU, but learning shouldn't stop at graduation. Ask lots of questions when you start your career and never stop. Make sure you take time to sit back and think about what you've learned too. My college advisor, Dr.Tom Brumm, got it right when he said "Learning happens through reflection."

  2. It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know.

    You've probably heard this before and your parents would still want you to keep your grades a top priority, but networking is very important! Don't get me wrong, grades do matter, but after you get your first job, nobody asks you what your GPA was anymore. The relationships and resources you build throughout college, however, will be much more important to you in your career. Keep networking once you do join the working world. Get involved with some professional organizations in your industry to keep building your contacts.

  3. To go with #2 above regarding networking, Get to Know Your Professors.

    An older cousin of mine told me this when I was a freshman at ISU and I thought he was nuts. To me professors were intimidating and I definitely didn't want any of them to know me that well. About my third year or so I figured out that this is good advice. The men and women that teach your classes know a lot and know a lot of people too. You never know when that relationship could prove valuable, even after graduation.

  4. Last but certainly not least, Have Fun!

    Have fun at college and have fun in your career. Be sure to do something you like for work. We spend a large portion of our waking hours during the week at work so you may as well be doing something you like. Even in today's unsure economy, the Ag sector is very prominent and alive, so your career outlook is good. Remember too that you are young enough that you cannot make a mistake in your choice of jobs. Even if you take a job you end up not liking and it takes you two years to figure it out, you will still be young enough to change your career path and be very successful. So have fun!