Karson Humiston started a student travel company while she was still an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. But before she graduated, she’d already decided to do something bigger.
Humiston took stock of her growing professional network–mainly comprised of fellow students and recent grads–and tried to reverse-engineer an idea that they’d all find useful. “A hangover pill would be great,” she quips, “but you have to be capable of creating one.” So if not that, then what about jobs? she thought. “Everyone’s parents would say, ‘The clock is ticking, what are you going to do?’” says Humiston. And since she and her friends were applying to jobs they weren’t passionate about, in fields that didn’t excite them, she recalls, “I started looking into industries that I thought would be exciting to millennials.”
That’s what led Humiston, who’s now 24, to start looking into cannabis.
Unlike so many other fields, Humiston soon realized, the cannabis industry has high growth potential and lots of opportunity for career development–even if a candidate had no prior experience. What could be better suited to entry-level and early-career professionals? This insight was one reason why Humiston found herself in the middle of a cannabis trade show in early 2015. (The other was the fact that her dad is involved in the industry.)
According to Arcview Market Research‘s “The State of Legal Marijuana Markets” report, the state-legal cannabis markets will continue to grow at a 27% rate through 2021. And despite conflicting signals from the Trump administration, the 2016 election saw eight more states vote to legalize marijuana, for a total of 28 that now have medical marijuana laws on the books. Legal spending in North America totaled $6.7 billion last year; for perspective, 87% of that came from just five states and Canada.
Humiston didn’t waste any time. She created business cards on the spot for a company called Gradujuana (the logo was a weed leaf on a graduation cap) and started pitching herself as a recruiter. “I had no experience in recruiting,” Humiston admits, “but I am a people person.” Soon afterward she moved out to Denver and started playing matchmaker for her network of millennial job seekers and the cannabis companies she’d begun to develop relationships with.