Originally Posted by orchidman
I don't think I would enjoy a super huge school, where you have class sizes of 100 students.
Try class sizes of 1,000 students.
I can shed some light on some things from a family business/professional side. My father received his bachelors in biology and masters in forestry. My family owned an ornamental business for a number of years as well as some side farming in actual agriculture- peanuts, cotton, soybeans, etc. From there, he went on to manage one of the larger ornamental nurseries in Florida (and the country by default). From there, he moved into the fertilizer sector where he received a whole bunch of advisor certifications and works in commission based fertilizer and product sales rep that specializes in the ornamental side of the business.
Doom and gloom aside, there is money in horticulture and it's far from a feel good career. However, the money is frequently traded for security. Growing things like ornamentals can be relatively high risk because you are at the whim of the market whilst growing a perishable product. It is effected by a fluctuating economy. That being said, the nurseries that are strong businesses will survive while the ones that are good growers but poor businesses will not.
I could write a book of advise, but I'm going to stick to two points.
1- If you want to go into business for yourself, learn how to operate a business when you're in school and make sure to get the credentials while you're at it. More on this in point two. As stated above, good businesses can survive bad economies, but you have to know what you're doing. Take business, accounting, and marketing classes. If it isn't your major, it should be your minor. There is not a career in the world that will look down on a business-related minor.
2- While learning about a niche within a niche shouldn't be your academic focus, it can most certainly be a secondary one. Some of the most successful nurseries in Florida started in people's backyards. They constructed a small greenhouse and grew desirable niche plants and sold them to smaller garden centers and distributors. As demand grew, the business grew. They leased an acre, then five acres, etc. When I worked in tropical fish wholesale and distribution there were people making an additional $25-50k/yr. by breeding and propogating high end fish and inverts in their garages and spare bedrooms. They kept full-time jobs with full-time benefits and did this as a side business. I don't see why an Orchid business couldn't be the same. Choose a couple of varieties, open up a business, and see what happens. You may find that renting a three bedroom house, devoting one bedroom to propogation and subletting one bedroom for a roommate is the way to go. You may get out of school and not want to look at another orchid for the rest of your life. Again, owning your own business isn't going to hurt anything on a resume and it will set you apart during critical interview processes. Frankly, it will look a whole lot better and be a whole lot more interesting than working an internship or part time job at a botanical garden unless you're dead-set on staying in the botanical garden business.
What sounds better-
"I had an internship at orchid botanical gardens during my sophomore and junior year where I worked as a lab assistant who specialized in tissue culture."
"I started and still run a small nursery that sold specialty orchids online and a few select retailers. You can check it out at www.orchidsbyyourname.com
. By the time I graduated, I had about ten varieties and five hundred orders per year."
My point is this- eventually you'll find that growing things isn't hard. You develop a skill set and you run with it. There may be some species down the road that are maddening, but for the most part, you won't have trouble growing marketable product. The details of running a business, however, can be much more valuable to learn while you're in school.