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Shaun Taylor on placement

"For food studies, I think Harper Adams is one of the best choices. Students will get a good understanding of food right through the food chain and it is one of the few that offers a placement year"

Shaun Taylor is from Shropshire. He  graduated in 2014 with a BSc (Hons) Food, Nutrition and Well-being (now Food Technology with Nutrition). He spent his placement in the Regional Food Academy based at Harper Adams. The university offers a range of placement jobs for students.

What attracted you to Harper Adams?

The course related facilities and the rural setting.

Why did you choose your course?

I found the modules to be both interesting and challenging and they also give a wide range of knowledge.

Tell us a little about what it involves …

Despite the name it is not actually a nutrition course but a food science course. We cover the make-up of the human body, how different food is made, influences on food choice, new product development and marketing to name a few. Practicals have involved brewing beer, bread baking and sausage making. These practicals show us what food is made of and how the processes work.

What have been the benefits of your course so far?

I have gained extra-curricular qualifications, skills, friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

What is the teaching like?

Absolutely fantastic.

What have been the highlights of your time at university so far?

Being involved with one of the most proactive student unions I have ever seen.

Did the fact that Harper Adams offers a placement year influence your decision to study here?

The placement year did influence my decision as having a full year’s worth of relevant work experience is invaluable for a graduate.

Where did you work on placement?

I worked within the RFA on the university campus as an Assistant Technician. 

How did you find the job and what was it about it that appealed to you?

The job was advertised on the placement website and what appealed most was the variety of experiences that the job offered.

What are the benefits of choosing a course with a placement built in?

It looks fantastic on a CV but it also gives students a chance to apply their knowledge in real life situations.

What would a typical day’s work include?

There is no typical day! One day I could be inputting data onto spread sheets, the next I could be cleaning and disinfecting the kitchens after a practical with students. The following day I may be helping organise the training of a sensory panel.

Did it build your confidence?

Absolutely. Before starting placement my confidence on the phone was terrible, but that has improved greatly.

The most useful thing about placement?

How it gives you a taste of life outside of education. After 20 years of formal education, a full time job seems like a very alien concept. It helps you mature greatly as an individual, which will show through whilst on interviews or networking.

What have you learned on placement that you will use in your final year studies? 

Improved motivation and confidence in my own skill sets. I have also improved my knowledge on much of the equipment that will be used for my dissertation.

Has being on placement made you think any differently about your future career plans?

My placement has moved me away from considering marketing roles and pushed me towards looking at more technical roles within businesses.

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