Where are you now?
My work involves discussing diets with farmers and formulating rations to meet on farm nutritional and performance requirements. I am part of the new ‘Lakeland Agri Technical Hub’ and we provide technical support to our farmers through RumiSmart Sustain also.
Lakelands RumiSmart Sustain is a fully integrated feeding system covering soils, forage production, nutrient supply management, rumen function and animal health. Therefore I am working along with the Technical team and Sales Reps to help farmers become more efficient and reduce their costs of production inside the farm gate. My job also involves going out to farmers, to get a clearer picture of the situation on their farms and view progress after changes have been made. I enjoy the variety of work and getting to talk to many farmers about what they are doing on their farm as every situation is different.
How did you get there?
When I was in first year of my degree held in CAFRE Greenmount, I won the bursary for the Ulster Grassland Society by writing a report entitled ‘Marketing the UGS to under 25s’. Through this I then created a Facebook page for the UGS and assisted them at their events throughout the year including their annual conference and farm walks. This gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the people working in the Agri industry in NI and it was their President at the time, Ian McCluggage, who gave me dairy farm contacts in North America for placement.
I decided to do the 1 year placement but I was keen to get experience on a dairy farm abroad and in the Agri industry in Northern Ireland also. I spent 6 months from June-Dec 2015 on Bally Bright Farms in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Being from a suckler beef and sheep farm in Fermanagh I wanted to gain further experience on a dairy farm as I had an interest in working in the dairy industry after I graduated. I had a great time away and really enjoyed meeting so many new people and getting involved in the community. It definitely boosted my confidence in myself as I had to step out of my comfort zone. I gained a much greater knowledge of dairy farming and it was particularly interesting to compare between the industry in UK and Ireland and Canada.
Then I spent 8 months from Jan-Aug 2016 with the grass seed company, Barenbrug UK, working with the Regional Manager for Northern Ireland. This was a great placement also as I got an insight into what a job out on the road working in sales is like. I got good opportunities to meet many farmers and businesses all over Northern Ireland and it helped me to grow my network within the NI Agri industry. I learnt more about different grass varieties and grassland management through the job also.
After my placement year I knew that I would ideally like a job where I would be dealing directly with farmers and something that had a bit of variety would be of interest to me too. I knew that Lakeland Dairies had a very good graduate programme as I had looked into it a few years ago therefore when I saw that they were looking for an Agriculture Graduate to work in their Agribusiness I decided to apply.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
I attended the Careers Fair in QUB and was speaking to a recent graduate on the Lakeland Dairies stand. Although they were not in the Agri part of the business they were very positive about the company in general and their own role which was encouraging to hear when I was considering applying.
I met with Mark Gallagher to get interview advice and this helped me to know how to prepare best beforehand with example questions and also guidance on the steps different employers can use when recruiting such as assessment centres and online psychometric tests.
Advice for current Queen’s students
Even though you may be busy with your uni work, always try to make time for other activities outside of that as well. Employers will be looking at many applications and it is good to have something that makes you stand out from the other applicants. Lots of people are finishing uni with good grades so what makes you different?