Thinking about your future employability is something all university students consider at some point during their degrees. But Harper Adams University graduate Annabelle Gardner says it is important to think about it from day one.
Networking and getting your name out into your chosen industry were both high on Annabelle’s agenda when she started her BSc (Hons) Business Management and Marketing degree at Harper.
And she believes doing this helped her secure her role as Membership and Events Manager at The Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) – one of four Agri-Tech centres across the UK established by the Government.
The 26-year-old, who graduated with first class honours in 2017, said: “I became interested in my subject while studying A-levels, there was not an emphasis on agri-food at that age and at that point I wasn’t aware of the scope of opportunity in the agri-food sector but I knew I wanted to do something business related.
“I have to say I probably fell into the course. I knew it was what I wanted and the course description made sense to me, but at 18-19 years old you can be very indecisive and have people telling you to do different things but you have to go with what you think is right and your gut instinct.
“Harper has such a good reputation and I knew of people who had studied at Harper and had gone on to have amazing careers, so I knew that there was a lot of opportunity there.
“I would definitely recommend Harper and the Business courses, and I would advise new students to think about their future career from day one. Set up a LinkedIn profile as soon as you start your course and add people to your network and post on there about your course, etc.”
Annabelle, who is from Staffordshire and did her placement year with the Marketing and Communications Team at the University, said the combination of three years of studying alongside the placement year ensured she was industry ready and helped her make key contacts, while also leaving her with fantastic memories.
“I was quite shy when I started at Harper and the thought of the placement year was very daunting for me, but I had so much support from the lecturers at Harper helping me with CV writing skills and interview skills, they really supported me,” she added.
“I really got so much out of placement at Harper. I developed skills which you can’t necessarily teach such as how to conduct meetings, decision-making, networking, what is expected in an office environment, how to work in a team effectively, how to work to different deadlines, what it is like in an office environment, etc. Placement provides a whole new perspective to work.
“I gained experience in all areas of marketing including social media, press and PR, and assisting at shows and events. A placement year provides you with a head start, you have a full year of experience and contacts that you have made to be able to go out into the real world and confidently apply for jobs and secure jobs.
“I think one of my placement highlights has to have been when BBC Radio 1 came to Harper and I got to meet the Radio 1 team and Ed Sheeran. We also had the opportunity to visit the BBC Radio 1 studios and said hello to Scott Mills while he was live on air.
“There are so many exciting and interesting opportunities that come with studying at Harper, not only for career development and support, but also day–to-day student life.
“My studies have guided me to my career direction and have enabled me to get to where I am today.”