Student experiences

Paula Lobb on placement

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4 September 2015

Paula Lobb graduated in 2015 with a BSc (Hons) Food, Nutrition and Well-being degree*. The 23-year-old, from Gloucestershire, is now a technical graduate trainee with ABP, one of Europe’s leading food processors. 

Why did you choose to study at Harper Adams?  

I really liked the outline of the core modules within the course. The university is situated on a picturesque campus and wasn’t overly big so I felt that I would get a more personal experience. 

What have been the highlights of your time at university? 

Gaining the skills, knowledge and confidence to start my own business with a fellow student. This in return created a variety of exciting opportunities such as judging the BPEX pork service product of the year. I was able to gain extracurricular qualifications e.g. CIEH Level 3 Award in Supervising Food Safety (Merit) and CIEH Level 3 Award in HACCP for Food Manufacturing (Merit)  Also, gaining the Gary Baker scholarship 2014/15 and gaining a graduate job with Dalehead Foods following my industrial placement. 

What skills have you gained that will be useful after you graduate? 

Industrial knowledge following my placement year, extracurricular qualifications, interpersonal and presentation skills. But the main thing has been CONFIDENCE. I have developed into a young woman with clear career aspirations.

How would you describe Harper Adams? 

FUN! There is always something taking place at the university. I have had so much fun. It lives up to the student ethos of ‘work hard and play harder’. 

And the teaching? 

The teaching staff at Harper Adams are truly amazing. They are so passionate about what they are teaching. Most of the staff go far beyond expectations. I feel I can approach almost all staff and ask for help and guidance if required. 

What do you think of the campus? 

The campus is beautiful. The main building is a beautiful building. Being able to walk around campus and hear the animals from the on-site farm is relaxing.

What’s the social life like? 

The social life is very busy – there is always something to do. The SU calendar is packed full of exciting activities. Lots of nights out including a large variety of themes. My favourite SU activity was the free fireworks display.

What are your favourite memories? 

Meeting my uni friends - being friends with people from all across the UK has enabled me to travel the UK when visiting them. All of the extra qualifications I have gained have seen me grow and develop into the person I am today. 

Have you explored Shropshire and beyond campus? 

I have visited Shrewsbury – a very beautiful place with a large amount of food restaurants, a great place for a foodie!

Tell us about your placement year. 

I was a Technical Placement Student at Dalehead Foods, Corsham. I worked closely with the quality assurance team on day to day tasks and with the Quality Assurance (QA) Manager to improve QA systems. I worked with fellow employees to ensure we were compliant with Waitrose policies, and liaised lots with the external laboratory; ensuring they implemented tolerances. I would review all nutritional data from the lab testing and identify any tolerances. I liaised with organisations such as Soil Association and Food Standards Agency as and when required. 

What would you do in a typical day? 

I would set the senior management morning taste panel – laying out the products in an orderly fashion. If the products required reheating I would do this before the end of the morning meeting. I would create analytical reports on an ad hoc basis. Similarly I would create shelf life reports. If there were any shelf life samples that needed to be sent to the lab for testing, I would log these on the system and ensure they were ready for collection. If there were any issues with the lab I was the main customer contact. I would work on projects throughout the afternoon and attend meetings as and when required. Occasionally I had to go to Bracknell to the Waitrose headquarters. 

What were the best things about placement? 

I developed tremendously throughout my placement. I came back to university a completely different person. Over placement I flourished and developed. It gave me the responsibility to develop projects for a large company and to develop skills for life. Being surrounded by individuals who were passionate about the meat industry clarified my future career aspirations. 

Did you apply what you’d learned at Harper while you were on placement? 

Being on placement allowed me to put the majority of modules to use especially the technical / scientific based ones. 

Were you able to use anything you learned on placement in your final year? 

I gained a variety of skills on placement that proved invaluable in my final year. These included: Interpersonal and communication skills, confidence, critical reasoning / problem solving and negotiating skills. Team work and leadership skills proved invaluable in group project work.

*Now renamed as BSc (Hons) Food Technology with Nutrition

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