Christine McDowell graduated from Harper Adams in 2011 with a BSc (Hons) in Fresh Produce Management and later achieving a PgC in Food and Fresh Produce as part of the post-graduate MDS scheme.
Currently, Christine is the NFU’s Food Chain Adviser. She is responsible for the NFU’s engagement with the UK’s largest grocery retailers, ultimately influencing the agri-food supply chain to back British farming.
Alongside this, Christine, originally from Northern Ireland now leads the NFU lobbying efforts to influence the Government as they develop policy, strengthening farmers’ position within the supply chain & ultimately striving for a fairer and functioning marketplace for farmers and growers.
Prior to joining the NFU in 2015, Christine’s previous roles have been in the commercial, supply chain and technical functions within some of the UK’s largest food manufacturing businesses.
A word from Christine
“I sat where you are now, 10 years ago. I didn’t know what my next step was, where I wanted to work or in fact what kind of role. If I’m honest, I’m yet to answer these questions to this day. I was applying for graduate jobs but falling at the last hurdle and I couldn’t understand why.
“When I was reading through this year’s crop of graduate applicants, I saw myself in many of you, trying hard but tripping up along the way.
“So, I wanted to reach out with a helping hand so you make the best of your application and interview. Frankly, I didn’t have it at your age, and I wish I had.”
5 tips to get you started
1. It’s obvious, but please get someone to read through your CV and covering letter. It needs to be legible. If you’re asked supplementary questions in the application, please answer them.
2. Don’t spam your CV out to every graduate scheme going. It’s hugely obvious & will be a waste of your time.
3. Stand out! You’re competing with 100’s of others. Show that you want the job, using your experience & selling yourself goes a long way.
4. Transferable skills are a big deal! Take some time to understand yours & explain specifically how you use these skills in other situations. As a side note, diversity is also a big deal! Telling me you’ve knowledge and experience working on a farm is great, but it’s not the first thing I look for and won’t get you very far. The industry needs more people with diverse backgrounds so try to focus on your transferable skills.
5. Examples! Examples! Examples! I love them! Bring to life what you say. If you tell me you’re good at communicating, tell me more. Give me a specific example & tell me how you know you're good at communicating.
The second part of Christine’s blog will be published on Friday