Outside Work

Mia Tramz works on an organic farm.
By Andrea Delbanco
A farmer drives a red tractor

Mia Tramz had spent 11 years working at a desk in an office when, one day, she felt ready to try something totally new. Your Hot Job spoke with Tramz about her career change and her new life working at Tributary Farm, an organic farm in New York.

Tell us about your career path.

I had to work through high school and college, so I started in the restaurant industry. But from the time I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a photo editor, and I put everything into getting there. The bulk of my career was centered around visual storytelling. First, I was a photo editor, then I had the opportunity to build a virtual-reality department [at TIME].

I’m so glad I got to experience that, and I’m really proud of my work. But there came a moment when I felt like I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in that career, and that was the moment I decided to change careers.

Crops are carefully hand-washed and dried before being packaged for customers.

What drew you to farmwork?

I call the first part of my career “inside work.” Now I’m doing outside work. I always had a deep love of being outside, so I wondered: “Could I be paid to be outside all day?” There are many jobs you can do outside, and I tried a bunch over the past four years. Farming caught my attention. There are endless things to learn. If you’re a curious person, you’ll never get to the end of your learning.

Tramz gathers delicate lettuce crops from the aboveground tunnel where they’re grown.

What’s your typical workday like?

We start with a team meeting to talk through what needs to be done that day, and people are assigned different jobs. It could be harvesting, transplanting, seeding, or doing fieldwork. It’s a lot of physical labor and repetitive tasks. All of the work is calibrated so we end up with a certain amount of vegetables each week.

In the fall, Tramz moves young strawberry plants from a greenhouse to a field.

What’s your favorite farm task?

Driving a tractor. I never in a million years imagined I would. The learning curve is steep, and it can be dangerous—you need a good teacher.

Tramz takes the tractor out on a wintry day on the farm. “I love [driving] it more than I ever would have imagined was possible,” she says.

What’s your advice for kids who want to work in agriculture?

There are many different types of agriculture, and within each type, there are infinite jobs. Maybe you’re not into growing vegetables or caring for livestock, but you are into car maintenance or building. Many things need maintenance on a farm.

Farms always need help. Look for volunteer opportunities or part-time jobs during the summer, and try a lot of different things to figure out where you want to fit in.