Student experiences

Sophie James on placement

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10 October 2013

Sophie James, 22, is studying BSc (Hons) Food and Consumer Studies and spent her placement year working as an Assistant Development Technologist for the dairy food company Dairy Crest. Sophie, from Oxfordshire, worked with the New Product Development Delivery team.

She told us: “The placement was one of the things that attracted me to my course. I felt that a year in industry would be really beneficial and give me an insight into what I did or didn’t want to do once I graduate. Being able to work on products for the retailer was an exciting opportunity and gave me a better understanding of new product development.

“The job included making products at kitchen scale to send samples to retailers, carrying out testing on trial products, being involved in developing new products, making alterations to recipes, tasting, discussing amendments and filling out the correct paperwork to ensure the next stage of development could take place.

“The best thing was being fully involved in product development and being able to develop a number of products throughout the year. I was also involved in meetings with suppliers to better understand the close relationship Dairy Crest has with its suppliers."

Sophie has been interested in the food industry from an early age and chose her GCSEs and A-Levels carefully to give herself the best career options.

“I studied Food Technology throughout GCSE and A-Level and it was something I enjoyed and was very interested in. I wanted to continue this through into degree level and was excited with the opportunities my course offers once graduating into the food industry.

“The course covers the complete food chain from field to fork. It highlights the importance of food safety and how and why products are aimed at different audiences. It also involves practical sessions to highlight the impact food processing has on raw ingredients and how this can ‘add value’ for the consumer.

“The course offers a vast number of opportunities after graduating. It incorporates the importance of food and how food products are marketed in the UK and around the world. We have opportunities to put our learning in our lectures into practise and also have the chance to use the Regional Food Academy on campus outside of lectures if needed.”

Harper Adams has recently entered into a unique collaboration with Dairy Crest – the company is going to locate a dedicated Innovation Centre on the campus, supporting our curriculum whilst re-energising Dairy Crest’s product innovation through regular interaction with staff and students.

Watch a video of Sophie here: harper.ac.uk/cmvdairycrest

More from Sophie on Harper Adams

What attracted you to a land-based university?

Harper Adams is so different to other universities that I looked at and I loved the location as I live on a dairy farm at home and wanted similar surroundings when I came to uni as I knew I wouldn’t be happy living in a city.

What do you think of the teaching you receive?

Excellent. Staff members are happy to offer any support they can and many operate an open- door policy to see them to discuss any issues you may have. Support when securing a placement year is also good and placement tutors are available throughout the placement year to offer help.

And the facilities?

Fantastic. The RFA is a great facility that is available for food students to use throughout the course. This has helped students to be able to put what they have learnt in lectures into practice.

What have been your highlights so far?

Meeting new people. Harper Adams, when compared to other universities, is a small community and this allows you to meet a number of the students, not just those on your course.  The many social events that are laid on by the Students Union, such as balls and nights in the Main Bar are great fun and create memories that you will never forget!

How do you think your course will help you with your career?

My course will certainly help my future career as it has It has given me an insight into the workplace and will certainly help when I begin making plans for my future career.  It has increased my confidence when I find myself in new situations, thanks to the placement year. The content of the course has also been a great help as it has shown me all aspects of the food chain and how important the food industry really is.

What opportunities do you think are available to Harper Adams graduates?

Harper Adams graduates have a number of great opportunities available to them, thanks to the experience and knowledge they gain from their studies.  The courses here ensure that students get an in-depth insight into their course area so they are well prepared and full of knowledge and expertise once they graduate.  This then opens many doors for their future careers.

Do you think placement will help you in your career?

It shows that you already have 12 months experience within the food industry, which is what many employers ask for.  It also gives you a better understanding of the work place and allows you to make a clearer decision about what you want out of your career.

Has being on placement made you think any differently about your future career plans?

It has definitely proved to me that NPD is something that I enjoy and I would certainly not hesitate to apply for a job within NPD in the future. I would like to work for one of the main retailers in the UK to see how this differs to working with a supplier like Dairy Crest.

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