How to milk a career in agribusiness

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Fancy working with the farming industry, even as you sharpen your banking skills? Try agribusiness.

Many of the major banks offer specific agribusiness intakes for students of rural science or economics. Other degrees are considered if the student has a personal connection with the rural sector.

Westpac has gone one step further: it has introduced a rural cadet scheme whereby first-year students work part-time at the bank on market-rate pay. The firm hopes to offer some of them full-time jobs after they graduate.

The programme is initially being run on a trial basis. The first four cadets will begin university - and working for Westpac - in February. "Our pilot cadets will be based in Newcastle, Wollongong, western Sydney and Sydney CBD... The intention is to grow them up as bankers. The essence of the cadetships is business banking, which is the core of agribusiness banking," says a Westpac spokeswoman.

Trainees are recruited in their final year at school. Getting a university place activates the cadetship. The bank hopes to expand the programme into other regions later in 2009.

NAB Agribusiness, another bank with a large agribusiness graduate intake, also has a programme to attract pre-graduates. It offers bursaries through three participating universities: University of New England, UQ Gatton, and Marcus Oldham College in Victoria.

The bursaries vary but generally involve final-year students working one or two days a week at the bank. They can also include extra financial help towards university fees. "On graduating, students can enter the bank's graduate programme," says Tara McNamara, NAB Agribusiness recruitment co-ordinator.

Details are available from the universities, and watch the NAB Agribusiness website for developments in 2009.

Commonwealth Bank has a dedicated rural banking graduate scheme, which in 2009 will take between six and 10 people.

ANZ does not have a specific agri-grad programme, but recruits people from its normal student intake to work in regional areas and gain rural banking experience.

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