Proving the success of Harper Adams University’s sandwich year and industry scholarships, Agriculture student Dearbhla Connell has secured a graduate job with ABN.
Dearbhla, who will finish the BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management programme this summer, was awarded the ABN Pig Industry Scholarship in her second year, completed her placement year with the company and is now set to join the ABN pig team as a Junior Account Manager.
During her placement year, Oxfordshire born Dearbhla spent six months on a 750-sow breeding unit developing her understanding of the core production system and furthering her stockmanship skills.
She said: “Gaining a pig industry scholarship was a great opportunity to get involved in a progressive and highly integrated sector and see a wide variety of jobs across ABN.”
“I also worked with the Account Management and Customer Support teams to liaise with a range of people throughout the supply chain and this benefitted my communication skills along with improving my ability to strategize under pressure,” said Dearbhla, who has used her placement experience within her dissertation, as she is exploring the impacts of benzoic acid on pig performance and consequent viability of the enterprise.
“I am looking at a range of trial data and interviewing a range of professionals from the pig industry to understand how they use feed additives and how this impacts their margins,” adds Dearbhla.
Dearbhla, who attended a school that championed more traditional degree subjects, was confident that she wanted to pursue an agricultural career and chose to attend Harper Adams because “it was the obvious choice, with specialised facilities and a country atmosphere, I knew when I first visited that I would feel at home at Harper.”
Coming from a non-agricultural background Dearbhla “was very grateful for Harper’s Access to Agriculture scheme”, which helps applicants from a non-farming background gain relevant work experience, “as it boosted my confidence and relieved some pressure in terms of the practical entry requirements.”
“Starting out, I found it a little tricky to adjust from exam-based A-levels to a system of continual assessment throughout the year but I found the academic guidance team and the resources they provide really helpful.”
Dearbhla has enjoyed her four years at Harper Adams but her particular highlight was “securing three scholarships in her second year. “I was really pleased to be recognised for my academic achievements and commitment to industry.
“The scholarships also helped me to undertake additional qualifications which have improved my employability.”
One piece of advice that Dearbhla would pass on to future Harper Adams students is “to be open to any opportunity that comes along – whether it’s additional work experience, placements or scholarships. You can learn a huge amount from spending time with a range of people and broadening your horizons even if you choose to take a different path in the long run.”