A degree that matters can open many career paths - some more obvious than others. Annabel Hollis, who studied BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management from 2014 to 2018, discovered this and has found herself about to start a career in law. She shares her journey and how her undergraduate studies ignited this interest.
“REALM has a really varied subject base,” Annabel began. “And it really does equip you with a huge range of practical knowledge.”
This knowledge is something Annabel had built up while at school, gaining working experience of the industry as soon as she was able. She said: “I went on work experience at a local firm of Chartered Surveyors in Year 10 which inspired my studies the most. I continued helping at on-farm machinery auctions for several years. It was this that allowed me to really understand what I wanted to study as an undergraduate.”
Knowing her interest in the subject, Annabel was quick to settle on Harper Adams as the institution to undertake her degree at. She commented: “It was the close knit community feel of the campus and Harper's excellent reputation in the rural industry that drew me in. My older brother also studied here, so I had an insight into the friendly and supportive atmosphere from a younger age.”
Annabel’s enthusiasm for practical experience didn’t wane as she took on an exciting placement opportunity in her third year. She said: “I returned to Bagshaws LLP in Derbyshire, the local firm where I had previously worked. I had an extremely varied placement year and thoroughly enjoyed it, gaining lots of experience as I worked between several offices and a livestock market. The placement year was another reason I chose Harper in the first place, and it did not disappoint!”
Over her time at Harper, Annabel recounted her favourite moments: “For me, my final year was the highlight. Although the academic difficulty really stepped up and the assessments came thick and fast, I really enjoyed the challenge and felt more motivated than ever.
“However, the challenge was the autumn term after returning from placement where it was hard to get back into a full-time academic mindframe.
“I overcame this by making the most of the on-site farm to keep myself sane. I did the general stockmanship course, improving my practical farming skills like lambing, pig husbandry and calf rearing. Although this took up extra time each week, I was so much more focussed on my studies. I also returned to the netball club which I joined in second year.”
After graduation, Annabel assessed all of her experience and decided to follow the path that had interested her most during her studies. She said: “I decided to pursue a legal career in the early stages of my final year. It was the modules with a high law content that challenged and interested me the most. The REALM lecturers were very supportive and helped prepare me for my further studies and transition into law.
“I have now finished two more years of postgraduate study and I am due to start my career with Michelmores LLP in Exeter, and reflecting on the transition I see now how important it is that both the surveying and legal professions work together to obtain the best outcomes for their clients.
“My studies at Harper Adams have really set me up for my career in law. After my training contract with Michelmores, I hope to qualify as a solicitor specialising in rural legal matters, working collaboratively with the surveying profession and fellow members of the CAAV.”
Overall, Annabel would not have changed her study route, as this opened her eyes to the world of rural legal matters. She said of her course: “REALM is an excellent undergraduate study because it is both varied and detailed, opening lots of doors.
“Transitions into other career paths are made smoother as the practical, real-world focus of teaching stands you in good stead.
“My advice would be to work hard and make the most of the opportunities Harper Adams has to offer, both academically and otherwise.”