Student experiences

Niall Massingham

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29 January 2014

It was attending an open day at Harper Adams that made Niall Massingham believe it was the right place for him to study and – now a fourth year - he hasn’t regretted the decision. “The day was very well organised. I got to look around the campus facilities and accommodation which was a real factor in making my decision. I also met with course tutors who made me feel at home straight away. Speaking to existing students made me feel like Harper Adams was an experience that I really didn’t want to miss out on.”

Niall chose to study BSc (Hons) Food and Consumer Studies because, he says: “It offered an insight into the whole food industry, not just specialising in one area, and therefore providing a lot more information all the way from field to fork. I felt this would be a real advantage when it came to finding a job after graduating.

“I’ve really enjoyed the variety of subjects which I have been taught and completing practical sessions in the Regional Food Academy to put theory into practise.

“I’ve developed lots of skills too such as the ability to work as a member of small and large teams, meeting deadlines, giving clear and concise presentations, good time keeping and communication, and confidence. I’ve also developed a lot of technical knowledge into the food industry and the flexibility to work on numerous tasks over a set time period.”

The 21-year-old has also earned extra qualifications in Basic First Aid, Level 3 Food Safety, Level 3 HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), and a Level 5 Management and Leadership (QCF) through the CMI (Chartered Management Institute). 

One of the highlights of his course has been the year-long industrial placement period, which he feels has been invaluable. 

“I really valued the independence and authority the job gave me,” said Niall, who spent his year in Lincolnshire as a quality control technician for Empire World Trade, the leading UK importer and distributor of top fruit, specialising in apples and pears. The company, whose customer base includes Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Morrisons, has recently been acquired by Univeg. 

“My job involved inspecting fruit arriving in the business, checking it met customer specifications. I would then inspect fruit leaving EWT to go to customers, checking for sugar and pressure levels, that the fruit was free from defects, and had the correct colour intensity and correct packaging.”

The student also spent seven months in Hampshire working with the UK apple season, monitoring and working with the grading, packing and distribution of apples.

Niall, who is originally from Buckinghamshire, adds: “Placement gave me great networking opportunities. It allowed me to meet and speak to key, leading people within the fresh produce industry and leading supermarkets within the UK. My technical knowledge of the fresh produce industry and its supply chain has increased dramatically - all the way from growing the apples in the orchards, up to packaging the apples and sending them out to customers.”

But as all Harper Adams students know, working hard is only one side of the coin – playing hard is equally important. “The social life here is fantastic! There is something for everyone, making you feel very much part of the Harper Adams community. Whether it is playing sports or a night out in the SU bar, you are always guaranteed a great social life. 

“Harper Adams is an amazing experience that you will never forget!”

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