Case study

Agricultural consultant — Maisie Jepson

Maisie studied for a Bachelors in Conservation Biology and Ecology at the University of Exeter before heading over to Aarhus University in Denmark to complete a Masters in Agro-Environmental Management. She now works as an agricultural consultant

How did you get your job?

I applied for my job around the same time I was graduating from my Masters. I wasn't initially invited to an interview but had the opportunity to speak to one of the senior members of staff, which lead to a meeting with another.

After finalising my thesis and receiving my grade I was offered the position with ADAS.

What's a typical day like?

In these first nine months I don't think I have really established what a typical day is - they've been so varied.

There has been a big focus on training, both in-house and external and I have learned a lot in a short space of time. Some days I am out on farms, soil sampling or shadowing experienced colleagues on visits relating to the farm infrastructure or the farms accounts. After the visits there is normally a report to write up, or maps to make using ADAS’ own mapping tool.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the broadness of the work I have been involved in and working alongside some very knowledgeable colleagues. The employees at ADAS have a lot of experience, both practical and research orientated. I like this mix - it makes it feel like ADAS is current and relevant.

What are the challenges?

I have not worked in a commercial company before, so getting used to things like time-recording has been new to me but I am getting the hang of it now.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My Masters overlaps well with the topics we work on at ADAS - things like nutrient management, climate change issues and river basin management. I also have knowledge of how a different EU country has legislated for some issues, which I think could be relevant for looking at future opportunities for ADAS.

Throughout my bachelor degree I looked at modules available outside of my main course to help broaden the scope of it and focus it more on agriculture. I did things like environmental law and geography, business and the environment. Both of these modules covered topics that come up in my day-to-day work (though I didn't know they would when I picked them).

What are your career ambitions?

Having only been in the role for nine months I am still very much in a training position, although though I am definitely becoming more capable.

I am looking forward to when I can be more independent and see projects through from the beginning to the end. I would like to have a number of farmer-clients who I can build up relationships with over the years and help them to manage their businesses.

I would also like to keep a toe in with the research side of things, looking at policy development. I believe this will be possible due to the broad range of activities carried out by ADAS.

How do I get into agricultural consultancy?

  • Be enthusiastic and demonstrate an interest in the food and farming sector.
  • Gain experience of agriculture first-hand - it helps when talking to farmers.
  • Be pro-active when job hunting. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.

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