Building a career takes time. It’s not always a smooth road – you will have bumps, some larger than others, along the way, but there will also be many people willing to lend a helping hand or offer advice. In this two post blog series, we hope to inspire you to push yourself, ask for advice and further your career ambitions. Last week, we got a glimpse into how branch manager Cynthia Stiglitz built her career to become a vital leader at Farm Credit East. This week, we chat with Austin Weaver on how he’s kickstarted his career with Farm Credit East.
Max: How did you discover Farm Credit and why did you choose Farm Credit East as a career path?
Austin: My first real exposure to the Farm Credit System came in high school when I had the opportunity to attend the Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education (VICE). Through that program, I learned a lot about the cooperative business model and the role the Farm Credit associations play in rural communities. Over time, my interests in business and agriculture continued to grow, which led to my attending Cornell University where I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, focusing my course work in agriculture, accounting and finance. During that time, I kept hearing good things about Farm Credit East and learned of the internship program. My internship experience the summer before my senior year really sealed the deal on pursuing a career with Farm Credit East after graduation.
Max: Tell me a bit about your career.
Austin: My career is only just beginning, but I first got started with Farm Credit as a summer intern in the Burrville, N.Y., office. I had a credit focused internship, where I became well acquainted with the loan process and upstate New York dairy farms. Following graduation, I accepted a role as an accounting associate in Farm Credit East’s Geneva, N.Y., office to further develop my interest in tax and accounting. Every day I continue to learn more about my role, the value of Farm Credit and the diversity of Northeast agriculture.
Max: Tell me about your current role as an accounting associate.
Austin: As an accounting associate, my role is to provide high quality service and value across the whole suite of financial services that Farm Credit has to offer. During tax season, a large part of my role is tax preparation. I’ve had the opportunity to prepare tax returns for all different types of business entities, trusts, estates and individuals spanning all the sectors of agriculture that we serve. Tax preparation aside, some days I am helping clients with technical aspects of accounting like recordkeeping or sales tax compliance, and other days I have the opportunity to apply my tax knowledge to consulting engagements, like planning a farm sale or developing an estate or succession plan. No matter the task at hand, my role allows me to develop and deepen relationships with clients and serve as a resource to help them navigate the complex and ever-changing world of tax and accounting.
Max: What have been some of the greatest challenges you have faced in your role?
Austin: Being fresh out of college and assuming a role in which people look to me as their advisor is challenging. Often, the challenge is building credibility. It’s clear that I don’t bring 20+ years of experience to the table like a long-tenured employee, but that doesn’t mean I can’t provide valuable insight or a fresh perspective that provides value to a customer. Sometimes, to overcome this, it’s as simple as finding something in common with the customer. Other times it takes several meetings and building a track record of high performance.
Max: What has helped you build your career here at Farm Credit East and what advice would you give to folks looking to start their career?
Austin: I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by some of Farm Credit East’s brightest tax professionals. Being able to work beside people like Joe Baldwin and Dario Arezzo and having them as a resource to learn not only the technical aspects of the job, but also see them model the soft skills of customer engagement, has been invaluable. I think when starting any career, it is important to surround yourself with good people. Once you’ve done that, you can’t be afraid to ask questions and utilize your resources.
Max: What has been your most memorable experience with Farm Credit East?
Austin: It’s hard to pick a single most memorable experience, but I really enjoyed going on so many farm visits during my internship to further acquaint myself with New York agriculture. I always enjoy getting to see what our customers do every day. I think that helps us to better serve them.
Max: What is your favorite part about working here at Farm Credit East?
Austin: The People. From coworkers to customers, the culture of people at Farm Credit is special. I think working somewhere where you feel valued and an integral part of the team allows us to bring that same value to our customers each and every day.
Max: What has been the single greatest piece of advice you have received and what would you tell students who are about to embark on their career?
Austin: I’ve always been told you should never be the smartest person in a room; and if you think you are, you’re wrong. Surrounding myself with people who are smarter and more experienced undoubtedly has added to my success personally and professionally. Granted, it’s often uncomfortable being the least experienced or knowledgeable in any setting (especially professionally), but learning from those around you will pay dividends. The other piece is there is always something you can learn from someone else. I try to approach every encounter as an opportunity to learn and gain experience in an area that I may not know much about.
I have had the privilege to work with Austin in our Young Professional Group, and being at the start of his career, he has already provided wonderful insight and perspective for not only the Young Professional Group, but also Farm Credit East as a whole. Austin, thank you for your contributions!
As I mentioned earlier in the post, we can learn from all our peers, they can each provide diverse and valuable insight at different stages of our career. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, listen and push yourself to be better!
If you or someone is interested in building a lifelong career here at Farm Credit East, check out our opportunities at Farmcrediteast.com/Careers.