There was never a choice for me; working with animals was what I enjoyed and a natural choice for a degree. Picking the university was harder, but after discussion with a few institutions and learning that practical experience was minimal or how their closest animals were 50 miles away I came across an alternative. Harper Adams offered what others didn’t: the opportunity to gain skills through practical work, laboratory experiments and traditional sit down lectures. It was the best decision I ever made.
My undergraduate course was Animal Behaviour and Welfare, but a range of courses offered the mix of skills I desired. Zoology, for instance, has the advantage of covering many different topics including wild, farm and domesticated animals and insects!
Harper’s placement year in industry is something not commonly offered elsewhere. Practical skills are transferable to both your final year in university and to a working environment in your chosen career field. I spent my year working in ornithology (birds), but although interesting I found this was not where my career ambitions lay. Instead I spoke to an entomologist (Professor Simon Leather) about completing my undergraduate dissertation with their department. Having this support network helped me successfully go on to complete an Entomology MSc with them. You can now study Zoology with Entomology at Harper – the only UK university to offer this.
I am now working in my dream profession as a Research Entomologist, working with insects in agriculture. I love it! I work on research projects in both the field and the laboratories, including performing bioassays (seeing how long an insect will survive in varying conditions), insect identification, am part of the national monitoring of fruit flies, and maintain quarantine cultures.
Being in this job gives me the chance to be part of a community. Making contacts is important but so is having fun and wanting to turn up on a Monday morning. Choose a profession you love and the rest will fall into place.