Tom, 23, from Tenbury Wells, graduated with a first class honours degree from Harper Adams in 2012 and has returned to study a part-time postgraduate diploma, part-funded by his employer.
Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?
It was suggested by my current employer, Hutchinsons, and is being part funded by them in order for me to achieve a formal agricultural qualification. I chose to return to Harper Adams because I had previous experience of the teaching and quality of education. Also the university is very well recognised within the industry.
What are the best things about your course?
I enjoy the applied sessions of modules – putting theory into practice in the facilities on campus such as the farm and soil hall. Harper Adams has excellent facilities to be able to conduct experiments for postgraduate study. The soil hall is a fantastic area to test in a controlled environment and the on-site farm allows for in-field trials to be conducted. Analysis of data is easily carried out too with the laboratory facilities at the heart of the campus.
What is the teaching like?
It is very good, there’s a very knowledgeable team of lecturing staff with a genuine passion for progress in the industry. All lecturing staff are approachable and always prepared to help with anything you find difficult. The majority of modules have a small number of students so sessions are interactive and built to welcome comment and opinions from student experience as well as the lecturers’ academic knowledge.
You are studying part-time. How flexible is your course?
The course is very flexible and I have been able to tailor the diploma part time over two years. The timescale for assignments is appropriate for me and my work commitments.
Tell us about your career.
I graduated from Harper Adams in 2012 and then spent a year working on the home farm in Suffolk whilst studying for my postgraduate diploma part time. I now work full time as a trainee agronomist with Hutchinsons who have been kind enough to part sponsor my postgraduate course through their bursary scheme.
What does your job involve?
I am currently working towards gaining my BASIS qualification which is a legal requirement for advising and selling agricultural chemicals. My job (once qualified) will involve me advising and supplying agricultural inputs to farmers based on assessments made whilst monitoring their crops. The job is outdoors and active whilst making technical and scientifically supported decisions that help to best manage farmers’ crops.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I thoroughly enjoy being outdoors and building relationships on farm. I enjoy being able to influence the decisions made by farmers to push yields and manage the quality of my customers crops.
How did you find the job?
I knew agronomy was what I wanted to do so I approached a number of agronomy based companies in order to gain interview experience and see what was on offer in the form of graduate training. I believe Hutchinsons offer the best training program in the industry and the support I have received since starting makes me feel very confident I will be successful within the industry.
How has your qualification/ experiences at Harper Adams aided your career?
Postgraduate study has certainly allowed me to develop my understanding of key issues that I am involved with on a day to day basis. Having completed a postgraduate qualification I am now very respected by my colleagues and progression through my career will be facilitated by having gone that extra step after completing undergraduate studies.
What careers, in your experience, are available to land-based graduates?
Any job you can think of can be applied to the agricultural industry. From mechanical engineering to scientific research and development; from marketing and sales to supply chain management; from manufacturing and sales to accounting and legal advice; I believe agriculture is the industry with the most diverse job spectrum.
What advice do you have for a student interested in doing a postgraduate course?
Commit to the additional and more challenging level 7 academic studies and the job market will open up for you!