Final Summary

Final Summary/ Reflection.

hurdles
Now we reach the final hurdle. Credit: Magnify marketing

These sessions have been very interesting and I feel like I look at the world differently since completing this module I have a greater understanding of many things I thought I knew before e.g. conservation career options, CV writing and my abilities to write a blog but this module proved to surprise me time after time.

I feel that the lecturers have helped me tremendously and I know it seems silly to say but I would like each of them to know they have had an impact on my future career choices and I’m grateful for this.

cropped
Bangor University Main Arts Building. Credit: Myself

The careers cafe opened up a world of opportunity to me outside of the comfort zone limits I put on my degree, I now know that it can open many doors.

The assessment centre showed me that I lack confidence and I need to have a bit of practice with interview skills.

Dragons den allowed me to be a part of a team, we all really felt like we had achieved something that day, it may just be a plan that will never happen but it shows we can do it!

CV writing has reminded me that I need to keep growing and adding to my experiences so that’s what I plan to do, I want a CV I can be proud of.

The business plan workshop and assignment have helped to encourage me to pursue something I’ve always wondered about. I hope to keep working on my idea until it’s ready to present to some real dragons!

Questions
  • Did the seminars help you decide for or against a career in research?

The seminars encouraged me to look at research as a potential future career option however I’d still like to have a business along side it.

  • Did they help you come up with an enterprise idea?

Yes, I feel my business plan idea was one of the best I have come up with and that wouldn’t have been possible without this module.

  • Did you gain new contacts? How?

Yes, I gained new contacts in the form of other students. I’m not really someone who has the confidence to walk up to the guest speaker or lecturer to ask questions and keep in touch.

I did however talk to a lot of people who I had seen around in my lectures but never got the chance to talk to before so that was a great experience.

  • Did you understand how to write a better CV, use social media to network etc?

The CV workshop helped me a lot, I found out I was doing a lot of little things wrong which ultimately could be costing me job opportunities.

I had never wrote a blog before this one so I feel it was a beneficial experience, however as a 21-year-old in 2017 I am all ready able to use many forms of social media and have several group chats with others on my course.

  • How did the individual components of the module help you plan your career?

The individual components helped me by allowing me to put into practice what I had learned in the group activities without the fear of being put down or not being heard by the rest of the group, I was able to develop my ideas without worrying about them sounding stupid.

It has benefited my career development as it has shown me my own potential and limitations so I know what I can and cannot handle.

So now the end is near and so I face my final blog post! I faced it all and stood up tall and did it my way!

Pros and cons

2thumbsupbWhat did I like?

I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the lecturers, the quantity and quality of the guests and having marks spread out over several assessments was helpful.

A wide variety of topics from guest speakers and multiple assessment methods kept things interesting.

What didn’t I like?

I didn’t like being graded on the Interviews prior to any practise as some people has very limited experience in those situations so it is unfair to throw them in at the deep end when others have years of experience.

Future plans?

I would like to work further on my business skills and hopefully develop them so I can start a business, I would also still like to work in the area of animal and ecosystem conservation.

Advertisements
Workshops

Workshop Five- Business plan

As a follow up to the dragons den workshop we were asked to form our own business plan using the previously discussed business model canvas as seen below.

1024px-Business_Model_Canvas.png

I followed the same plan as before, mapping out the canvas frame on a big whiteboard at home. Then I work through each section one at a time and I bullet pointed the main points ready to expand later.

Then I wrote out each point and expanded it as much as possible thinking about many different factors I’ll list a few examples below;

  • Legislation- animal welfare, staff rights, land use, pet shop licence, exotic animal licences.
  • Competitors- other local pet store, online distributors, breeders, other re homing centres staff- wages, hours, rights, qualifications
  • Base costs to run the store- food, water, supplies, heating, electricity etc
  • Base costs to start up the business- building, tanks, storage, set up, transport etc
  • Training needed- first aid, driving, exotic experience, breeding, blogging, website running, public speaking.

My idea was a variation of my dragon den group idea- mine was a rescue pet and supplies store, they offered training and handling events as well as adoption of animals unsuitable for rehoming for a monthly fee.

The comments I received upon my plan being marked was:

“This is a very good business plan. Strong understanding of the value proposition and the elements of the business plan. More direct market research data to better define routes to market would add value.”

I was extremely happy with the response and I plan to develop my idea further.

I removed the travelling aspect of the dragons den plan and added a few unique selling points one of my favourites is a monthly direct debit that sends you substrates or  food supply before you run out so you never have to worry about that again!

Business planning- Step by step.

pet_shop_600
Example of a standard pet shop. Credit: Alresford
My opinion

I feel I have greatly benefited from this assignment and the workshop, I have gained so much new knowledge and now feel like I actually have potential to make something out of nothing!

The lecturers were very helpful with this assessment and I’m very glad we had the business plan practice through the dragons den workshop as I would have no idea what to do without that experience.

Has this affected my future plans?

Yes! I hope to further develop this year and look more into market research and possible funding options for this.

I’d like to also practice other enterprise/business ideas I have on this canvas model to see if they could work and to expand the possible roots I could take.

Workshops

Workshop Four- CV writing

This workshop/lecture was to help us write a great CV to get us noticed by employers and to remind us all of the importance of a good CV.

This is the chance to sell yourself, ensure the information provided is correct as false information on a CV isn’t going to help you or the employer. Everyone has their unique selling point just own it.

How to write a good CV

A CV is the first piece of communication an employer is likely to have from you so it’s important to make a good first impression!

first impressionThis workshop is also to help us in our first assignment we were tasked with choosing a graduate level job and then applying for it with a CV tailored to it and cover letter but what did this actually entail?

 

I have only ever had one successful experience with my CV- when I was 14 I applied to be a volunteer at a local dog groomers and got the job, she even asked if I had help from my parents writing it!

I was pretty impressed with this and haven’t really changed my CV much since then… I’m now 21 and what was impressive for a 14 year old’s CV is NOT impressive for a 21 year old graduate’s CV!

So I was very much looking forward to this workshop to get some tips to give my CV a much needed tidy up!

Tips
  • Tailor your CV
  • Keep it concise
  • Don’t include photos
  • Up to date contact details
  • Cover letters are the first thing they read- MAKE IT COUNT!
  • Professional email address
  • Simple layout
  • Get a friend to proof read it

cover letterDon’t neglect your cover letter.

Your cover letter is a summary of everything you have to offer, give examples of why you fit the job description.

Make them want to read your CV!

10 tips to write the best cover letter
My opinions

This workshop has helped to remind me of what I need to include in my CV and exclude.

I had forgotten the importance of keeping your CV up to date and I found this workshop very beneficial.

Has this affected my future plans?

Yes, this definitely has! I need to do more work on my CV, I hope that by doing this I will be able to land my dream job- you could be the best person for a job but they’ll never know if your CV isn’t at the right standard.

Workshops

Workshop Three- Dragons’ den

17974686_10211271376012035_2023817848_n
Our business team! Photo credit: Nicole Barton

Today’s workshop was Dragon’s Den we were set the task of creating a business idea, plan and pitch- After planning our ideas we had to present them to the dragons! This workshop lasted the whole day and we were put in random groups of 6.

 

Step one- Pick an idea: Our group idea was for a business called EduPet, the basic concept was an educational roadshow pet shop that also re-homed exotic pets.

17965248_10211271129245866_2016370766_n
This is the brief we were given, we added our own idea to it.

Step two- Present idea: We were asked to stand up and present our idea to the dragons, this was rather intimidating however we only had to speak for a minute each and had planned it all out so it went well.

Step three- Business model canvas: We were given an example business model canvas to help us structure our business plan, we found this pretty straight forward to follow.

17974278_10211271110885407_2114758454_n
Business model canvas used.

Step four- Presentation/pitch: Each group made a 20 second pitch video, ours was based on a poster we made.

Step five- Question time: The dragons asked us questions about our idea including questions about costs and profits, we worked these out during the planning stage buy using average profits of similar start up businesses, we also looked into running cost.

We got the chance to watch other groups present their ideas which was helpful, one group made a great video pitch and really impressed the dragons with their creativity.

We were shown this pitch as inspiration for our own pitch. Credit: Mad Men

My opinions

I don’t feel I would have been able to present a pitch alone so I’m grateful this was a team exercise and i found t useful to create a whole business plan and pitch idea in a day as this is something I have never done before.

Has this affected my future plans?

Yes, I feel more confident about my abilities to form a business idea, and I now know what to include in a business plan so I may even start up my own business in the future.

Workshops

Workshop Two- Careers cafe

Today’s workshop was the careers cafe. It was a series of talks given by Bangor university Alumni.

Breakfast-meeting425x282
Careers cafe, coffee, guest speakers and inspiration. Credit: Richard Stay

There were four guests who spoke to us about their careers: Bethan Wynne Jones, Dawn Thomas, Graham French and Jon Cannon.

They each work in a different area and we were able to gain so much knowledge about a variety of subjects due to this. Each guest spoke in turn and explained what they did and how they got there, this was extremely encouraging and insightful for the students that attended.

Bethan Wynne Jones

Bethan studied Zoology and graduated in 2014 with a masters, she then had a few temporary jobs before attaining her current position.

She now works for the National Trust at Snowdonia, her main roles are event planning and volunteer projects as well as general management of the woodland areas.

Dawn Thomas

Dawn was originally a nurse but changed her career path, graduating in 2010 as a mature student. Dawn had a lot of volunteering experience and this lead to her making great connections with the North Wales Wildlife Trust where she is now a Living Sea Awareness Officer.

Graham French

Graham started his career teaching at an outdoor education centre but he decided to return to university to get a PGCE this allowed him to go into teaching. Teaching not only opened up the mind of the children but also the world for Graham, he was able to travel the global to places such as; Canada, Austrailia and South Africa teaching science to children.

Jon Cannon

Jon graduated from Bangor in 1988, his dissertation was based on crocodiles that were transported to the menai to study!

He previously worked for National Resources Wales and now he is the process science manager for Welsh Water. Welsh water are known for hiring science graduate which is promising for the room full of students listening to these talks.

opportunity ahead
Stay positive! Credit: Peel Halton

Advice

  • Volunteer to enhance CV
  • The more experience the better before applying
  • Create contacts
My opinions

I feel that the careers cafe was a real eye opener, I previously had no idea that variety of things I could do with my degree!

I’m glad there were so many different speakers and that they were all walking different career paths, this has given me a lot to think about.

Has this affected my future plans?

Yes, I will now look into a wider variety of job areas and not just straight zoology based work.

I will also aim to get more volunteering experience on my CV.

Seminars

Seminar Five- In the lion’s den-Conserving Africa’s lions.

dr jackie abell
Dr Jackie Abell

Today’s seminar was given by Dr Jackie Abell she is the director of research for ALERT she has studied at many universities and has wide variety of qualifications in a few subject areas: animal behaviour and psychology.

She has completed many marathons in support of ALERT.

Dr Abell is a member of the IUCN, and SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.

 

So what is ALERT?

ALERT is an acronym it means African lion and environmental research trust.

What do they do?

ALERT run a variety of programs to assist in the conservation of African lions. They focus their efforts on research, education and community out reach.

They believe that the best way to ensure that the lion population can be conserved is to work with local people. many of these people fear the lion or just seem them as pests due to the predation of their life stock, ALERT is helping to bridge the gap and to assist the locals with these problems.

“According to the IUCN lion populations have declined 43% in the last 21 years (1993 – 2004), with less than 20,000 remaining.”

Dr Abell told us about a research project that is being conducted by ALERT in Africa, the are working to find a way to deter the lions from hunting life stock. If effective this could help to persuade farmers to take measure to help protect the lions.

bomas
A bomas is a current method used by farmers in Africa however it alone is not enough. Credit: National geographic

It is common practice for the local people to kill a lion if it is near their farm as it is a threat to their life stock and therefore their livelihood. Some even go as far as to hunt a lion if their like stock has been attacked, however there are many other predators in the area including hyenas.

goats-leave-boma
Example of a boma. Credit: Lion Conservation

 

The method being researched was the introduction of solar powered long life (4-5 year) lights, these would be fitted to the bomas in an attempt to deter the lions.

 

 

The lights were fitted for a trial period of 18 months, the results showed a massive decrease in the number of lion related lifestock attacks in theses areas.

The local people now have a safer environment to rear their life stock and as a a result may be more receptive to conservation efforts.

My opinion

I feel it’s extremely important work that is being undertaken by this organisation and without it the chances of stabilizing the lion population and ensuring their recovery would be non existent. Without the help of the local people any outside efforts will get nowhere so we need projects like this to get them on board with conservation.

Has this affected my future plans?

Although lions aren’t really the focus of my career path currently, I still feel that learning about projects like this will benefit me when going out into a conservation based job. I hope to take part in similar research in the future.

Follow ALERT on Twitter here.

More info about their work here.

Seminars

Seminar Four- Taking an ecosystem approach to farm management.

woodland valley
Woodland Valley Farm

Today’s seminar was given by Chris Jones he is a forestry graduate from Bangor University and is now an organic lifestock farmer in Cornwall.

After graduating he worked in many places including the UK, Middle East and Africa.

Mr Jones and his wife has since taken over the 178 ha family farm- Woodland Valley, this has been jointly owned by his family and Lloyds bank since 1960.

In 2007/08 the farm received a visit from DEFRA, they asked if a soil sample could be taken for a Carbon audit.

The results of the audit were;

  • CO2- 38%
  • CH4- 9%
  • N2O- 26%
  • Sequestration- 27%

These results were far worse than Mr Jones expected on his organic farm, so he decided to make it his mission to improve!

 

 

Video: This is a trailer for the documentary Polyfaces, it explores a farm that uses regenerative agriculture and works in a sustainable way with nature. Credit: Joel Salatin, Polyfaces

Mr Jones was part of a project Low Carbon Ladlock 2010 that got government funding of £500,000 to create a low carbon community. They wanted technological changes to be implemented including; solar thermal and PV, wind power, heat pumps and biomass boilers.

hazelnut trees
Hazelnut tree orchard. Credit: Rutgers University

They managed to convince the project organisers to give them part of the grant to fund a nut orchard, they were given 3% of the funds and the nut orchard overall represented 19% of the total annual carbon savings from the project!

This shows that if more money was invested into this type of management it could potentially have a huge impact.

What ecosystem services do we get from this approach to farm management?
  • Clean food- organic, sustainable
  • Clean water- no artificial chemical pollutants
  • Clean recreational spaces- forest areas, dog waking fields, allotments
  • Clean energy- renewable energy, sustainability, reduced carbon footprint
  • Physical and mental well being- being able to walk outdoors and be in touch with nature is beneficial for both physical and mental health
Challenges

On an organic farm no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used therefore there is a low out when compared to the area being used. This is due to reduced resistance to disease and pests when compared to industrial farms that spray their crops with chemicals.

At the time of the first audit the farm was using 30 acres (20% of their land) for cereal production as a supplementary feed for their life stock and the other 80% was cultivated as pasture.

The production of the cereal was a large contributor to the excess emissions of the farm so they looked at alternatives and decided t change their land into mixed herb pasture- this is nutrient rich and high quality so the cereal supplementation was no longer needed.

chicory pasture
Chicory is one of the many plants now growing in the mixed pastures at Woodland Valley Farm. Credit: Cabinet of curiosities 

The benefits of this change are:

  1. The biodiversity of the land has increased
  2. The nutrient content of the soil has increased
  3. Better herd health- reduction in parasites e.g. worms
  4. Self fertalizing! The excrement of the cattle improves the soil quality
  5. The ground soil has better water retention thanks to the deeper rooting plants and the increased organic matter in the soil
Mob- grazing

This is another method introduced onto the farm, it works by intensely grazing the herd on a small area for a short amount of time and then they are moved on to the next area. The land is allowed a long rest period to regrow between grazing.

It appears to be benefiting the herd and the farm as the second audit showed dramatic improvement.

comparison audits
This is a comparison of the first and second audits and the evidence of the benefits are clear to see! Credit: Chris Jones
Future plans

Mr Jones mention several ideas for the future

Grass fed dairy- this uses a low input low output system. He explained that it makes more sense in today’s society to sell milk as people are less interested in buying half a bullock to fill their freezer with meat.

Whereas they will readily buy a litre of milk, so the change makes sense for his business.

Another plan is to put trees in the pastures, this would provide the cattle with shade and shelter. However he is still deciding what he wants the purpose of the trees to be: timber, food production e.g fruit trees or just for the animals.

“I’m interested in the future, I have children- I’d like it to be a habitable planet to live on” Chris Jones 2017.

cows and trees
Cows taking advantage of the shade given by the trees. Credit: South East Farm Press
My opinion

I believe these farming methods are the way forward for a sustainable future. I find it truly inspiring that even though the farm could produce more and gain larger profits by using traditional industrialised methods they have stuck by their belief of a sustainable future and not sold out.

However even though in an ideal world everyone would adopt these methods and try to be sustainable, a lot of people are after a profit. And sadly with the increasing pressures of our growing population I’m not sure if this method of farming could realistically support us.

I found the seminar very eye opening, I wasn’t aware of so many benefits of organic farming or the difference a few nut tree could make!

Has this affected my future plans?

This has affected the way I will view buying produce, I think I’ll make the extra effort to visit the farmers market to support local small farmers instead of just the supermarket.

I’ll also consider the possibility of working with farmers i the future to assist with these ecosystem friendly approaches to farming.

Follow the farm on Facebook here.

Keep up to date with the farm on Twitter here.