I'm a college student and I want to get a summer job in the legal weed industry, but my experience is limited besides personal consumption. What types of jobs would you recommend I look for and where do I look for them?
— Cannabis-Friendly College Student
Working in the cannabis industry definitely sounds like most college students' dream, but is it based in reality? The fact is, the cannabis industry is growing at such a rapid pace that your chances of scoring a stoner's dream job is actually pretty high (pun most certainly intended).
The first thing you need to figure out is what you'd like to be doing within the cannabis industry. One of the awesome things about this booming business is that there are so many different fields you can enter. Are you super into science and technology? Then you might be interested in companies that are creating tech to help test or grow cannabis. Is agriculture more your speed? Then you might want to look into farms or businesses that work on the growing and cultivating end of things. Are you more interested in the consumer-facing side? Then you might want a job at a dispensary or a company that’s innovating new cannabis products, such as vapes or oil rigs. Remember, however, that unless you're 21, you most likely won't be getting a job in any aspect of the legit cannabis industry due to legal restrictions.
Just like almost any other profession, there are recruiting agencies that are helping to fill positions in the cannabis industry. And you, dear Cannabis-Friendly College Student, just may be exactly what they're looking for. Companies like THC Staffing, Ms. Mary Staffing, Vangst Talent Network, and more are actively seeking and recruiting college graduates to help fill the growing need.
However, if you live in a legal state and are looking for either a part-time job or something to tide you over until you have a better idea of what type of career you’re interested in, becoming a dispensary budtender might be something to consider. Keep in mind, though, that just having a ton of experience smoking pot isn't enough to land you a job.
If you want to become a budtender, you need to demonstrate that you know the product on more than a surface level (e.g. don’t brag about your leftover weed container stash). You need to know the ins and outs of flower, the differences between indica and sativa strains, what CBD is, some genetics 101, as well as all the terminology that goes along with cannabis. Make sure you're up to date on any trends, whether it has to do with growing techniques or new types of edibles and salves, particularly products that are sold at the dispensary you're interested in working for. While there are some budtending certification courses available online, there is no national or even state recognized standard at the moment, so concentrate more on studying up yourself than wasting money on a course, unless you hear personal recommendations from folks you trust.
If you have the bandwidth and are able to work a little unpaid, volunteering is another great way to get your foot in the door somewhere — there are countless advocacy and activist initiatives, from groups like WomenGrow and Supernova (which aims to create a space for women of color in the cannabis industry) to Moms for Marijuana and NORML. Or, if possible, check to see if any cannabis companies near you are looking for interns. These are all helpful ways to gain the experience and expertise a lot of companies are looking for in employees, and you'll be able to decide if working in the industry is the right choice for you without going too far deep.
Lastly, like in any industry, networking is key! That means expanding your social media following to include companies you are interested in, and then engaging with them in a meaningful way. Research the role or business that piques your interest, so those in charge know you're serious. Make sure to check out any cannabis related conferences happening near you, such as expos, trade fairs, meet-ups, and more. One good expo to hit up is the National Cannabis Business Association’s annual event. These can all be great ways to connect with local businesses and organizations that may help you end up with a potential job. And what better way to spend a summer than working with the best plant on Earth?