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    Agri-Food Marketing scholarship recipient concludes trip across America at Women in Agribusiness conference

    2 November 2023

    A packed travelling scholarship across the United States of America has recently concluded for fourth-year Agri-Food Marketing student, Niamh McGrath at the Woman in Agribusiness conference in Nashville.

    Niamh had spent three weeks investigating the impact of marketing dairy products nationally and regionally in the US – before rounding off her trip with the international conference.

    Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the conference provided sponsored attendees with the opportunity to develop their existing knowledge and network with likeminded individuals in the sector. 

    We caught up with her after the conference. Here’s what she had to say.

    “It was really random where it all started. I started following them on LinkedIn after the Women in Agri Business Conference came up as a recommended event. It just so happened that the event was in Nashville at a similar time  that I was meant to be in America on the John Platt Scholarship – so I saw it as a bit of a sign and decided that if I got it, I’d link them up and make a trip out of it.” 

    The John Platt Scholarship provides two £2000 travel scholarships to those who wish to further their knowledge in their chosen career within the agricultural or related sectors – so this was the perfect opportunity for Niamh.


    “My trip showed me the importance of having an international awareness, covering a vast range of topics from woman in the board room to sustainability of farmland. 

    It was a great way to be inspired by woman leading in their field as I move forward with my career."



    Niamh came to Harper through her degree with a foundation year programme in Business, formerly known as the Extended Foundation Degree Programme – a stepping-stone to undergraduate study for prospective students without traditional qualifications. 

    “I think the EDP is really interesting, and I couldn't have got into university without it, and it's unbelievably important to give access to higher education for people without traditional qualifications. 

    I think Harper do a massive job in providing that and I think if more people knew about it, it would be even more amazing. 

    And I think the lecturers you meet along the way are amazing - one of the first lecturers I met at Harper has just agreed to be my dissertation tutor. 

    So, they come along the way with you, especially because the foundation programme is aimed towards what degree programme you want to go into, you end up meeting familiar faces along the way. 

    Niamh then went on to study Agrifood Marketing with Business, which gives students the knowledge and skills to succeed in business, as they are taught by industry professionals to develop problem-solving skills, manage finances and think like entrepreneurs.  

    “It really gave me a grounding on an industry level, and an education in all areas of business. I found myself leaning on it during my placement – there would be things I’d learned in crop production, or food marketing might come up along the way – so I’ve found that’s been a really good basis going into the industry.” 

    The support I’ve received outside of my course has been fantastic too. I’ve had the same learning support tutor from year zero, as I call it, all the way up till now and they're just a constant source of support and guidance all the way through. And I think lecturers are really helpful with that as well – I can’t fault them. 

    Niamh recently completed an industry placement year at Co-op in her role as an Undergraduate Agriculture Coordinator in the Farming and Fisheries Team. 

    “I loved my placement. So my day-to-day involved farm liaison, some social media content for their TikTok advertising my role day to day, helping with website updates to ensure all the information about their farmers and sourcing are all correct. 



    “During my placement, I completed 31 visits over 3,000 miles, visiting factories, farms, industry events, school visits and volunteering days up and down the country as far as Scotland. There were a lot of really interesting elements to my placement that gave me a full insight into the process from field to fork, as well as the policy and ethics behind that and why Co-op make those decisions. 

    It’s crazy how much I’ve managed to achieve in that time but there's such a supportive team and you are always given the chance to grow and be in the room talking to people. It’s a real credit to Co-op because they never made me feel like a placement student – I felt part of the team which I think is really important and says a lot about the culture at Co-op. 

    “The main thing I’ve taken away from my placement is personal growth – of course the skills and industry knowledge learned were really beneficial, the personal growth from things like networking along the way has helped me massively with my confidence. 

    I’m a very nervous driver but yet I managed to drive 3000 miles by myself in different cars every visitit’s the little things you don’t realise that were once an issue completely change. I had a placement review with my line manager and she said you won’t realise how much you’ve developed until you go back to uni, and it’s true! 

    “For the last three months of my placement, Co-op actually gave me a life coach – so every two weeks you look into different challenges you may be facing which was unbelievably helpful in preparing me for my final year and getting me in the right headspace for graduate jobs.


    I remember them telling me in the interview that every day will be different and me thinking ‘that’s what they always say’ but it really was the case – every day was different and I think I really got the chance to mould the role into what I wanted it to be.  

    I really enjoyed shadowing some PR related sessions, which tied into the marketing element of my degree and gave me an insight to how I can build those skills. 

    “Although I’ve only experienced one example of a workplace environment, and I was so fortunate to work with an amazing team and have flexible work arrangements, I think it’s given me a great indication of what I want and what I don’t want when I leave university. Lots of people come out of placement and say that’s not quite what I want to go into, whereas I’ve come out of it with an excitement for the next stage in my career. 

    Whichever way your placement goes, though, I think it’s really valuable to have that ‘trial run’ almost and build those connections within industry, learning about other people’s career paths and finding opportunities you might not even know exist. 

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