A Harper Adams student’s placement year is an excellent opportunity to explore the field they are interested in while acquiring on the job skills. It can equally be a great time for an employer to invest in the future of the industry, taking on our students following their graduation to pave the way for the supply chain to continue to provide for the world. Fourth year BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary student Emily Morgan has been successful in this endeavour, gaining herself some valuable experience and a graduate job before even completing her degree.
With an interest in agriculture, Harper had always stood out to Emily. She said: “I wanted to be able to study and socialise with like-minded people who are passionate about the agricultural industry.
“I was also attracted to Harper because of the placement year and the fantastic employment opportunities this leads to, as shown by the number of Harper graduates in employment soon after graduation.”
Now entering into her final year, Emily has loved her time at university. She said: “My Harper experience so far has been fantastic! You are surrounded by like-minded people; the lecturers are very passionate about their subject, and there’s a good balance of lectures to labs to being on the farm.
“I’ve made some fantastic friends in halls who I now live with, and the social life at Harper is like no other.”
Emily’s passion and drive to find a career pathway that excited her paid off, as her scholarship has propelled her to gaining more great opportunities. She commented: “The highlight of my academic years so far was actually probably securing my scholarship placement which is something I’m very proud of. It shows that it's not just about what you learn in the classroom, but those important life skills as well like a good CV and interviewing.
“Hand in hand with this was securing myself a graduate job with ForFarmers which has been a definite highlight. Before university I could have only dreamed of finding a grad job while in my third year!”
Emily’s graduate job has come as a result of her placement year, showing ForFarmers just what she can do in the industry. However, Emily had known about the company long before working for them: “I had known of ForFarmers before and so was pleased to see that they offered a placement at Harper. I spoke to them at the Scholarship fair, applied with a CV and, if I remember rightly, I wrote a two page letter about myself, why I wanted the job, and the benefits I would gain from the scholarship. I was called for an interview and then offered the job!
“ForFarmers offer a pig and ruminant placement. I come from a family of sheep farmers and so wanted to try something different, learn something new and put myself out of my comfort zone and applied for the pig job over the ruminant one.
“Despite this total change of industry, my placement year was absolutely fantastic, and I don’t think I could rave enough about how much of a good year I had!”
With Covid-19 impacting everyone’s everyday life, Emily gained two very different insights into working, being onsite and working from home. She explained: “Before Covid struck, no two days were the same. I had the opportunity to work on some major projects with one of our largest customers and was given huge responsibility.
“I ran and produced results for my own feed quality trial and worked on improving efficiencies within logistics. Practically I weighed piglets on feed trials and body condition scored sows’ I went out onto the farm with account managers visiting customers and seeing what they do day to day. I attended pig team meetings, technical meetings and more. Alongside all this I also worked within marketing and on my placement project!
“Then everything changed. Through lockdown, those that could work from home did so, and my work shifted massively. We weren’t visiting customers weighing piglets so that work was non-existent, and a lot of project work came to a halt while the business main focus turned to making sure our customers were continually supplied with feed.
“I’d worked with the Marketing team the whole year, but it really became my focus in lockdown. I was sending out Covid communications to our customers, keeping them in the loop; writing pieces for our website and our internal news page, and managing social media for pig, poultry and leisure.
“Later into lockdown, when the initial panic had settled, I was also working on some branding work. Just before I finished I’d spent a few weeks inducting a new member of the marketing team, showing her how to use all the software we use and handing much of my work over to her.”
With a variety of experiences, Emily is looking forward to returning after graduation to continue her work with ForFarmers.
In the meantime, she will be working on her dissertation, focusing on pig nutrition while catching up with her friends. She commented: “I’m most looking forward to seeing my friends again! It’s been a hard few months not being able to see my university friends. Before lockdown we’d meet up regularly on weekends, so it’ll be nice to go back to living with them again!
“I’m also looking forward to getting back into my studies and completing my degree. I think working for a year gives you that push of motivation and determination you need to start your final year with, as well as the whole new skill set learnt on placement – organisation being the main one!”
As our students return to campus and some start for the first time, Emily shares her advice on the Harper experience: “Go for it - you will not regret it!
“I feel like there’s a place for everyone at Harper and everyone fits in somewhere. It may be a rural campus but there is so much going on. The lectures are always willing to help and you receive so much support.
“The placement year really sets the university apart and is great for employment opportunities.”
With the Graduate Outcomes survey showing that 98.8 percent of Harper students are in employment or further study after completing their degrees, we value our industry connections and the positive experiences our students gain from them. Should you be interested in our undergraduate courses, you can find out more here, or join us at our Virtual Open Day to discover Harper for yourself. Sign up now!