Military Veteran Plans for Career Change

Military Veteran Plans for Career Change

March 28, 2022
Contact: Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations

MOUNT OLIVE –Joe Long has spent the majority of his adult life serving his country in the United States Marine Corps.  He has been stationed in Virginia, California, and North Carolina.  He has been deployed eight times to the Middle East, Afghanistan, South and Central America, and Europe.  The Gunnery Sergeant has seen a lot and accomplished more.

With his 20-year retirement set for April of 2025, Long has started thinking about what might be next for his professional career.  Unlike many retired veterans, he does not see himself pursing a follow-on career with the government.  Rather, Long wants to cultivate a career in a field that has always held some interest for him – agriculture.

“Both business and agriculture have always intrigued me,” Long said.

To combine those passions and to prepare himself for the next phase of his professional life, the 38 year-old has enrolled in the University of Mount Olive’s online agribusiness program.  The school came highly recommended from Long’s wife, Vanessa, who is an alumna of the University and also a veteran.  “My wife has been so supportive,” Long said.  “She makes me want to be better.”

Because UMO’s agricultural business program is completely online, Long is able to continue his fulltime employment.

“The online format, coupled with the eight-week classes, are the perfect scenario for working adults,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at UMO.

Maddox noted that the program is designed to allow students to develop management proficiencies through rigorous academic courses and research. “The program emphasizes the biological, legal and regulatory, marketing and trade, and policy environments that are unique to agriculture, even to specific commodities,” Maddox said.

With agriculture being the number one industry in the state, the sky is the limit for Long with regards to employment opportunities including in a variety of management settings such as off-farm input suppliers, commodity buyers and processors, food manufacturers and distributors, retailers and farm-based crop, livestock, poultry, horticulture, forestry, tourism businesses, etc.

“I would like to pursue a career in the sector of ag business that I am most passionate about, which is equipment procurement and supply chain management,” Long said.  “UMO has given me an opportunity to become a student again, complete a goal that I set for myself almost 20 years ago, and is currently transforming me to be a more well-rounded professional.”

Long’s advice to others thinking about a career change and educational advancement, “You are never too old to learn something new,” he said.  “Remain humble and hungry, there is always someone out there working harder and better preparing themselves for competition.”

Long and his wife are the parents of two children:  Ayana (13) and Jaxton (6). They reside in Hubert, NC.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists.  For more information, visit