My Harper Adams: Michelle’s time at university
What attracted you to Harper Adams?
Initially, I came to look at the Rural Enterprise and Land Management course at a Harper Adams open day, but I didn’t think that it would suit me. On the same open day I met Annette Creedon, the course manager for Food, who made me fall for the food courses at the university. I always wanted to be at Harper Adams so I could be around like-minded people with a similar farming background to myself. They are so focused on you getting a job at the end of your degree. The uni has close contacts with industry and companies are keen to employ Harper Adams graduates. There is also an excellent work/play balance, with a lot of social events organised throughout the year.
Why did you choose your course?
I chose my course because there are so many opportunities that will open up to me once I graduate. The food industry is vast and, from my experience so far, it seems it is missing people who have the skills and knowledge to fill the boots of people who are retiring. Every product on a supermarket shelf has had hours of work go into development, trials, testing and then finally production – this is something that I think people don’t realise when they go food shopping. As Annette said to me when I started “People are always going to eat – therefore, there will always be a job in the food industry.”
Tell us a little about what it involves.
My course has lectures all through the week. All the modules have set assignments and exams. There is also the option to do languages on top of your regular modules. There is the opportunity to work on the farm available to all students: as part of our “Nature of Food” module in first year we were required to do two sessions.
There are a number of marketing modules on my course, like “Principles of Marketing” and “Integrated Marketing Communications”. I have a keen interest in nutrition so my favourite modules have been Well-being Through the Lifecycle, Public Health Nutrition and Advanced Aspects of Human Nutrition.
What Michelle did next
“I'm now on the Future Leaders Programme at Faccenda (the company offered me the position before I finished my placement). As I write this I have been here just under a month (so I'm very excited about my first pay cheque!!) and this month has really flown by.
“The Future Leaders Programme allows graduates to move around the business carrying out completely different roles over three years. My first "placement" is as a Section Manager on night shift. I feel a bit like I have been thrown in at the deep end, but I'm up for the challenge! I currently manage around 40 people, which I feel so far has been one of the most difficult parts of my role, but I think you only get better by experience. I am lucky because the members of my team are very experienced. So far I have had very positive feedback from my managers and I'm looking forward to continuing in this role. Working in production is very different to the role I did in the Technical department during my placement, but having the technical background helps me better understand a lot of what I am doing every day. After 12 months my aim is to be able to run a whole production shift as a stand-in Production Manager.
"I am expecting to stay in this role for the next six months and I am then going to change. I am hoping to gain experience in Commercial, Category Management and NPD on the Future Leaders Program.
“Faccenda offers area specific graduate schemes (such as engineering or commercial) however I'm glad that I'm doing the Future Leaders Programme because it will give me a well-rounded appreciation for how the business works."