Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) recently held its third live Agri-careers webinar, these annual webinars are always a phenomenal success, so much so the event has become a much-welcomed mainstay in DkIT’s Department of Agriculture, Food & Animal Health’s annual academic calendar.
The event was organised by Dr Siobhán N. Jordan, Head of Department of Agriculture, Food and Animal Health at DkIT . Dr Jordan invited previous graduates from DkIT’s BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture to speak about their transition from higher education to the workplace or further education. Topics of discussion included their career pathway, how they find a work-life balance and the importance of finding a career that suits their lifestyle and their love of farming. The event was held exclusively for DkIT agriculture students and was aimed at supporting undergraduates to make informed decisions for their future and to give students a new prospective of what life after graduation could look like.
The panel included recent graduates from a wide variety of backgrounds including, Ryan Callan from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan who is a pedigree beef farmer and is currently pursuing a PhD in DkIT. Ryan completed his BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture in the Institute, did a taught Masters in UCD and then returned to DkIT to start his PhD in 2022. Speaking of his current PhD research project, Ryan said “you need a lot of motivation and stamina to do a PhD, it’s a marathon not a sprint, but it suits me well and fits in with my farming at home. There is great flexibility doing a PhD and it doesn’t seem like a job as I get paid to research something I absolutely love”.
Next to share their experience with the group was Nicholas McKenna, Co Meath who graduated in 2018 and currently works for Lakeland Dairies. After Nicholas finished his BA (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture in DkIT he proceeded to a Master’s in Agriculture Extension & Innovation in UCD which he did in conjunction with Teagasc. This course took him down to Kilkenny for a period of time which he loved “it was great to get away from home for a while and have that experience”. He joined Lakeland as a Joint Programme Advisor before moving into Milk Quality and Compliance. Nicolas who is a part-time suckler farmer said of his current role “I absolutely love my job, I spend a lot of the time on the road, meeting farmers and helping them solve problems. Lakelands is a great place to work, there is loads of potential and great career progression within the company and I still have the flexibility to farm.
The last graduate to present was Lauren McCabe, Co Cavan, who only graduated in October 2022 and is currently teaching in a secondary school in Ballyjamesduff. Lauren is currently teaching junior cycle science and leaving certificate biology and agricultural science. She is going to pursue her teaching Masters in Hibernia this September, where she can gain her qualifications over 24 months through online, evening lectures and weekends. She said of her current role “It doesn’t feel like a job at all I love it and I have plenty of time to help out in the farm at home. A lot of what I learnt in DkIT is extremely relevant and there is a huge cross over to what I’m teaching now”.
The session finished with input from Catherine Staunton Head of Careers & Employability in DkIT, “It’s a great time for all graduates from DkIT particularly those getting into the agriculture sector, we have an extremely high employability percentage in this sector. The employability centre in DkIT is there for students throughout their time studying and is still available up to 12 months after graduating. We are here to help in so many ways from interview preparation and motivation to letting you know what jobs are out there”.
Dr Siobhán N. Jordan, Head of Department of Agriculture, Food and Animal Health, DkIT said “This webinar is extremely beneficial for our students to showcase the breadth of opportunities available to our agriculture students and there is no better way to do this than provide an opportunity to speak to some of our highly successful graduates.”
For more information on Sustainable Agriculture visit www.dkit.ie