Dr Lucy Crockford is a Senior Lecturer in Soil and Water Management at Harper Adams University, where her role also means she works as a Placement Tutor and Lecturer.
Earlier this year, she worked with The Environment Magazine on an article for the publication’s Youth Takeover issue. In it, she set out the importance of the industry placement year all Harper Adams University students undertake – setting out her views, the views of one of our industry partners, and the views of our students.
In this short series, we take a look at each in turn – starting with Lucy herself…
When I started working at Harper Adams University I noticed a real difference between the students who were in final year and those pre-placement – yes, they were older but the depth of reasoning they brought to their assessments and even their exams was nothing short of remarkable.
I remember as an environmental science student myself, I was encouraged to find relevant and useful employment during my summer months.
I realise now the wealth of knowledge I gained from my relatively short periods working for the Forestry Service - Coillte - in Ireland and the research laboratories at NUI Galway, but to have had a full year would have served me well in finding employment upon graduation.
The skills and knowledge gained in industry becomes invaluable when in competition with other graduates for that all important first job.
However, I think also that I served an important purpose for my various employers, keeping the day to day functioning going for other more established colleagues.
As a tutor, I’m always proud to visit an employer and find that the student has exceeded their expectations.
In the majority of cases, students complete grounding but important repetitive actions to ensure the smooth running of an organization. They are often rewarded for their diligence as they move through their placement with more responsibility and more ownership of their work.
As a placement tutor it’s my role to ensure that the student is making progress and that both parties are getting a good return on their investment.
Students invest time and often quite a lot of their own money into their placement year -between fees and living costs - while employers must allocate resources whether that is some work shadowing in the early days or, and we very much encourage this, a stipend for the student working for them.
We are all invested in the smooth running of the placement and many of our employers have continued to take placement students over decades.
As a university, we are so enamored with the placement year that it continues to be central to our courses developed during our recent curriculum review - Harper Forward - and the university itself employs placement students as well.
Recently appointed as Course Manager for the Environment, Sustainability and Wildlife courses, Lucy is tasked with developing further placement opportunities as we launch our new courses: