2014 graduate Beth Bason, from Staffordshire, studied BSc (Hons) Countryside Management and now works in education, a role she prepared for thoroughly during her placement year as an assistant tutor at Kench Hill Centre in Kent, an education centre for primary school children from Hackney. Beth takes a look back at her placement and four years at university.
When did you first discover Harper Adams?
I came to HEC 2009 and it enabled me to get a taste of Harper Life, both academically and socially. The open days also gave me a good opportunity to talk to staff and ask questions about the course. The experiences definitely made an impression and made me more determined to be offered a place here.
What were the best things about your course?
The huge range of external visits and the two residential trips to Slapton Sands, in Devon in our first year and Anglesey, Wales, in the final year. Combined with the placement year, we have lots of opportunities to see the sector first hand and put practical skills to the test.
What skills/knowledge did you gain?
I now have a far better knowledge of the environmental education and the visitor management aspects of the sector.
What sort of projects were you been involved in?
My dissertation looked into the importance of residential environmental education from children from the inner city whilst another final year project looked into entomology in a rare habitat on Anglesey.
How would you describe Harper Adams?
I think the university very much lives up to the students’ motto of ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’. It’s a very lively university with plenty of academic, sports and social activities to get involved. The size of the campus also makes it a very friendly place to be.
And the teaching you received?
The staff at Harper Adams are brilliant and make every effort to get to know you as a person, which helps a great deal when settling in to university life. They are very keen for you to succeed and provide excellent support if you are struggling for any reason.
What did you think of the campus?
The campus has excellent facilities, which are often incorporated into teaching. The library is very well stocked and allows you to study well without having to spend lots of money on your own text books.
And the social life?
There are so many activities that my social life was great. Spending my second year as the Equestrian Club secretary not only gave me a great opportunity to make new friends, but to develop a range of skills in communication that have benefitted me on placement and I could take into future employment.
What are your favourite memories?
My favourite memories are being able to go out and about after lectures in the countryside surrounding the campus. Another favourite memory is Wednesday evenings in the summer term, a BBQ with friends followed by a night in the Harper Bar!
Did you explore Shropshire and beyond campus?
I explored lots of places around Shropshire during my time at Harper Adams. Some of my favourites were Shrewsbury because it is such a pretty town with lots of good shopping and little independent cafes, and the Long Mynd, especially Carding Mill Valley because it’s great for going for long walks.
What else did you do in your spare time?
I was a Student Ambassador, which allowed me to earn some money during term time and get involved in lots of events on behalf of the university, which was also good for my CV.
Tell us about your placement year.
I spent it at Kench Hill Centre in Kent. It’s an education centre for primary school children from Hackney and I was the Assistant Tutor. I spent a lot of my time teaching or leading trips to places off site, but also had to help maintain equipment and resources, help in the kitchen garden and help the domestic and kitchen team from time to time.
What would you do in a typical day?
Most of my day times were spent teaching, but I would also take children to feed the chickens, help with getting resources ready for activities and help out with office tasks. In the evening I would often help with extra activities with the children and also had to open the tuck shop most lunch times.
What did you enjoy most?
The wide range of skills that I was able to either learn or improve and the range of experiences I was able to take part in such as taking a school holiday trip of 100 Dutch teenagers to Central London for the day!
Did you apply what you’d learned at university while you were on placement?
I definitely had to apply lots of my knowledge when I was on placement. This included ID skills, elements of health and safety, visitor management and field studies skills.
Were you able to use anything you learned on placement in your final year?
I was definitely able to apply what I had learnt at placement in my final year. One of my modules was about Education and Visitor Management and the assignment allowed me to apply so much of what I had learnt the previous year.
What support did you receive from the placement team?
I had great support from the placement team. I actually found my placement myself so the team had to ensure it would be suitable and gave me lots of support for this.
Has the experience been valuable?
The skills I developed have made me not only more knowledgeable about my subject area, but have also improved my communication skills and also allowed me to become more confident in the work place and trust my own initiative when having to solve problems.
Does having a degree help your career prospects?
I think being a graduate does make a difference, especially with a placement year under your belt as it allows us to apply for jobs that are looking both for a high level of technical knowledge which we have gained from the course, but also with the ability to apply that knowledge, or have a good understanding of the industry.
What advice do you have for a student interested in a similar career path?
My biggest piece of advice would be to take opportunities. Any opportunities to do something you haven’t done before, both at uni and outside of it, develop skills that will help you out in the work place. The more ‘real life’ experience you have when you leave, the more you have to offer a future employer.