I am a… personal assistant
“In this job you need to be organised and have strong communication skills, initiative, the ability to work alone (this applies to many rural jobs) and a personality!” says Kim Yates, who is a personal assistant to a farmer/landowner/businessman in Suffolk.
A personal assistant (PA) works closely with senior management or company owners and provides administrative support, usually on a one-to-one basis. They need to know their company inside out, be highly organised and able to take on a wide variety of tasks, from organising meeting and dealing with visitors, to preparing important documents and managing diaries.
“My farming knowledge has helped me in my current job and my previous role as project coordinator,” adds Kim, who graduated in 2011 with a BSc (Hons) Agri-food Marketing with Business Studies. “I am from a farming family and wanted to do a business degree with an agricultural twist as business was my favourite subject at school through GCSE and A-Levels. The Agri-food course at Harper Adams encompassed both my enjoyment of business and love of farming perfectly! I definitely think that studying there made me more employable in the agricultural industry, where the university is highly recognised.”
After graduating Kim began working as a Packaging Procurement Coordinator for MM Flowers, a division of MMUK, before leaving to move to Suffolk with her fiancé, who she met whilst at Harper Adams. She firmly believes her degree and the wider experience she gained at university have widened her career opportunities. “I think being a Harper Adams graduate has helped me without a doubt. With one job in particular, I only got an interview based on the fact that I'd been to Harper and I got the job!”
The 25-year-old spent her placement year as a trainee manager at Uncle Henrys Farm Shop, in Lincolnshire. “The job involved everything from serving at the till, to placing orders, public relations, event management, projects, product development, and much more. Due to the smaller nature of this family run company I got the opportunity to get involved in nearly all functions of the firm, which was fantastic experience on my part!
Kim, who grew up in Nottinghamshire, adds: “Placement is a great life experience more than anything, having to move away from friends and family to a strange county, which at the time can be tough but in the long run you do look back and think how useful a year it was in so many ways, not just academically! When I returned to Harper Adams for my final year I did my dissertation on farm shop consumer demographics and my colleagues at Uncle Henry’s were very helpful in aiding me with my research, as were other past employers who I had worked for during college holidays.”
To find out more about what Personal Assistants do visit Prospects, the UK’s official graduate careers website.