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    'Harper has always been the place.': Meet Toby Cleave

    30 April 2020

    As our final year students are beginning their last term of studying, we have been catching up to ask them about their time at Harper and what the best experiences have been for them. Toby Cleave, a BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management student, looked back at his undergraduate degree fondly, recounting his favourite moments.

    “Harper has always been the place,” Toby said. “When you come here and have a look, there’s no competition.”

    Toby tracks his enthusiasm back to childhood. He commented: “I always knew what I wanted to from a young age; although I have a background in dairy farming, I knew livestock and rural surveying was the path I wanted to follow rather than milking.”

    With this in mind, Toby was certain Harper was the place for him after attending an open day. He has not looked back on his decision, using every opportunity to grow and learn in his field and as a person.

    Part of this growth came from his placement year, one of the things he looks back upon most fondly. He shared: “I worked for Bagshaws Estate Agents in Bakewell. I was lucky enough to put my REALM knowledge to the test, working for an agricultural land agent. But, alongside the professional inquiries, I got the chance to work at Bakewell market.

    “Having always had a passion for livestock, I had always envisaged that auctioneering would be my future career path. Due to Bagshaws working alongside the market, it was the perfect fit for a placement year.”

    Working in the market was certainly an eye opener for Toby. He explained: “There’s a lot more to market work than people might expect. Working to build relationships and get to know clients before going onsite to work with them is a skill unto itself. Then the pressure is on to have the right technical knowledge.

    “Of course, Harper teaches you all of these technical skills, giving you a foundation to work from. As you work, you start picking up things on placement that helps bind together the theory with the practical work you’re doing. I think you only realise this once you come back for your final year and everyone is so much more knowledgeable and experienced.”

    Now in his final year, Toby recounts the positive experiences of his placement year with a clear vision of what he wants for the future. He owes his excellent experience to the course placement manager, saying: “Harper does a great job making sure everyone has an opportunity that is right for them. I was fortunate enough to gain an opportunity that included both of my interests while also being paid. While this did add an extra level of responsibility, it pushed me to perform where I can now pull on those experiences and relate it back to studies in final year.

    “Placement is a really big and important step for your career and provides a great basis to learn from.”

    Overall, while Toby looks to the future, he will be wistful to see his time at university come to an end. He said: “I’ve loved my time at Harper. It has been some of the best times, and I’ll be sad to reach the end of final year. It’s helped me come out of my shell and experience things I never would have done had I stayed at home on the farm. I couldn’t have asked for a better university experience.”

    Are you a final year student? Or are you working to help feed the nation? Tell us about your Harper experience by getting in touch here!



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