BSc Agriculture

Placement Reports

Name: Luke Cox

Programme: BSc Agriculture with an Industrial Placement Year - currently in third year

Placement: Frontier Agriculture

Luke Cox

Luke Cox, current third year Agriculture student, is carrying out his industrial training year with Frontier Agriculture, the UK's largest crop production and grain marketing business, based in Newbury, Sandy and Hermitage, Berkshire.

On placement Luke has been tasked with a variety of roles to help him gain a greater understanding of the company and to assist with their operations.

Talking about his work he said: I am thoroughly enjoying the diverse nature of the work as it runs on a rotational system, so I get the opportunity to work in all departments of the company and to really understand the business. This has also allowed me to engage all the skills that I've learnt in lectures as I apply them into a practical environment. It has been fascinating to see the tangible results of the theory that we have been taught."

He continued: "I have also taken this knowledge beyond the conceptual principles, understanding what is actually effective in the real world. When I started my placement I began working with SOYL precision farming at Newbury, where I was tasked with a wide range of jobs that tested this understanding of effective practices in the Agricultural industry. Through this I was able to take my knowledge on just growing crops and loading the lorry, to a broader awareness of the supply chain as a whole."

In his latest role as a Commercial Sales Assistant, Luke has taken the confidence and knowledge gained from this placement to drive ideas of his own on how to improve the operational efficiency of the company. He said: "I took it upon myself to make changes at Frontier, taking on the project of developing a barcoding system for our sampling, in order to make the laborious process at harvest more efficient. The autonomy I had over this assignment and the role as a whole made me realise that crop nutrition and fertiliser are going to play a more prominent role in my career, as the growing importance and reach of these areas made the work I carried out all the more worthwhile."

Luke has seen the importance of a placement year, not only for his final year but also taking forward into his career, saying: "The knowlegde you gain from such an experience is priceless, and working in an actual job allows you to put into practice everything learnt in your first two years of the degree, and then apply what you take from the placement into final year."

He elaborated: "This experience will give me a huge advantage in the future, with the vast experience and undertsanding I now have of the whole industry putting me in a strong position when applying for any role in the agriclutre industry. I have also started to develop relationships with a wide network people in the business, from the Managing Director and the rest of the senior management team to members of the farm trading team in my area. These connections will prove pivotal to my dissertation and final year modules, as well as helping me progress throughout my career."

Due to Luke's strong performance in the company to-date, he has already been offered a position with Frontier following graduation.


Name: Hannah Jones

Programme: BSc Agriculture with Industrial Training

Placement: Placement Student Trainee at Farmer Gow's Ltd.

Hannah Jones

Hannah Jones, a part 3 Agriculture student completed her placement year at Farmers Gow's Ltd, a small yet extremely diverse business based in Farringdon, Oxfordshire. They provide farm and forestry services to the public, in addition to allowing open farm access to the general public.

Appointed as a Placement Student Trainee, Hannah's role was very varied but she primarily worked on the open farm aspect of the business, educating members of the public about the farm animals that are reared for the table.

She explains: "I led workshops every day, sometimes for as many as 200 people, especially during the school holidays. I was involved with lots of different aspects of the business, working with visitors, administrative duties (processing invoices and payments) and on occasion liaising with Christmas tree suppliers to order 1500 trees!".

Working in a small business with only seven members of staff meant that Hannah had a golden opportunity to experience all aspects of the business, including the farm shop and catering, as everyone had to pitch in when and where they were needed.

Hannah said: "It was brilliant. I was actually responsible for employing my replacement, which was a fantastic experience as a placement student as I had to look at job applications from an employer's, rather than a student point of view. It really made me think about how to highlight my key experiences and skills on my CV". She continued; "I was given a lot of responsibility during my placement which was scary but very rewarding. By taking ownership of projects, the importance of hard work was emphasized - alongside enjoying the success of them!"

The School of Agriculture, Policy and Development offer a compulsory module for all second year undergraduates called 'Career Planning', and according to Hannah, this positively contributed to her application preparation. She comments: "The module included workshops for assessment days and practice interviews as well as creating a CV to tailor it to specific job descriptions of our choice. I used the feedback I received regarding my CV to improve my application to Farmer Gow's, ensuring that I correctly and truthfully included how I met their candidate requirements on my CV.

"I also used the University Job Shop a few times - that helped me to successfully find a job for my first and second years at university. Their CV help service was also useful as someone checks and helps you to improve your CV, while Gillian, our placement officer for the School, also actively helped with my placement search by sending out weekly emails from companies seeking placement students, usually specifically from the University; and that is how I found out about the opportunity at Farmer Gow's."

Overall, Hannah sums up her experience by saying; "I really enjoyed my placement year and would strongly recommend it to all students". From a personal perspective, I now know what I'm looking for in a graduate job and more importantly I know what I don't want to do as well; so the placement year has really focused my job applications as a result. There are just some skills that you just can't be taught at University - like public interaction, a skill I really enjoyed and found rewarding but also challenging in the same sense, and my commercial awareness has also increased massively as a result of my placement. I now truly understand the pressures that agricultural businesses face and the decisions that need to be made when running a successful enterprise."

Talking of her future plans, Hannah looks forward to starting her new job at Lower Hope Farm in Hereford after graduation. She says: "I will be working in the fresh fruit department. My role is set within the administration team where I will be responsible for coordinating orders for eight UK supermarkets. I can't wait!"

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