Student experiences

Alasdair McNab on placement

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8 October 2013

Italian wine production Agri-Business student Alasdair McNab organised his own overseas placement, with the support of his placement manager. He undertook a six-month placement through the Erasmus programme at the University of Bologna in Italy where he worked as a Research Assistant and also studied an International Masters in Horticulture.

The 22-year-old then undertook a six-month internship at Enoteca Regionale Emilia Romagna, an association set up to promote and improve wine production in the Emilia Romagna region of North Italy. Having graduated in 2013 he is now a trainee winemaker at Holmfirth Vineyard.

What is the best thing about your course?

It provided me with the opportunity to study abroad and gain a foreign placement in the wine industry. My honours research project was conducted in conjunction with my placement employer and evaluated the possible UK markets for high quality wines of Emilia Romagna, Italy.

What did your placement entail?

During the six months at the University of Bologna I studied an International Masters in Horticultural Sciences and also worked as a research assistant at the university and edited soon-to-be published scientific papers on Agricultural Economics. I also undertook a six-month internship at the Enoteca Regionale Emilia Romagna, a regional organisation funded by the growers for the purpose of promoting and exhibiting high quality wines from the region. My job was trainee sommelier, which involved selling wine in the shop, assisting in promotional events and tasting sessions, working in the communications office corresponding with media and representing the company at trade fairs in Italy.

What was the best thing about placement?

It gave me the opportunity to experience a different culture, make life-long friends, and gain huge knowledge of the Italian wine industry. It also affirmed to me that I wanted to have my own vineyard in the UK and posed the question “Why shouldn’t we make wine in this country?”

What are you doing now you have graduated?

I am the trainee winemaker at Holmfirth Vineyard where I assist in the winemaking, maintenance in the vineyard and lead guided tours and wine tastings.

What advice would you give to other students?

If you have an interest in viticulture seek a placement on the continent because it provides a great amount of experience which employers look for after graduation. I would urge prospective students to try a course like Agri-Business because it gives you the skills to add value, market and sell agricultural products.

Erasmus

Alasdair’s placement was conducted in conjunction with the Erasmus Programme.

Erasmus is the European Union's flagship educational exchange programme for Higher Education students, teachers and institutions. It was introduced with the aim of increasing student mobility within Europe. Erasmus forms part of the EU Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-2013). It encourages student and staff mobility for work and study, and promotes trans-national co-operation projects among universities across Europe. The scheme currently involves nine out of every ten European higher education establishments and supports co-operation between the universities of 33 countries.

Erasmus has developed beyond an educational programme - it has acquired the status of a social and cultural phenomenon. It gives many European university students their first chance to live and thrive abroad. Over two and a half million students have benefited from Erasmus since its introduction in 1987.

For further information on the opportunities available visit:

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