How is your graduate programme structured?
I’m on a two year graduate programme with Lakeland Dairies. It’s a rotational programme. I began as a technical coordinator where I was dealing with customer complaints, internal audits, hygiene audits, and also involved with customer audits on site. Most recently I moved to a new rotation and a supervisory role where I’m the supervisor of a micro-biology lab of four to six employees, depending on the season. In this role I maintain day to day running of the lab while I also grade and allocate products to customers based on their specifications. Within the graduate programme we also do a diploma in organisational behaviour, which has really allowed me to develop personally and also develop my communication skills and learn how to interact with other people.
What made you choose a job in this sector?
I grew up on a dairy farm so dairy was always of interest to me. Then I studied nutritional science in University College Cork, so the dairy industry was an obvious choice for me. While in college I carried out an internship which furthered my interest. Then I bumped into Lakeland Dairies at a careers fair in UCC. What attracted me to them was that they’re a company that’s very focussed on the farmer, adding value to the milk to get the best returns for the farmer.
What skills are needed in your role?
One of the main skills is communication. I spend roughly 80% of my day communicating with a large number of different personnel between production, lab technicians, quality personnel, sales etc. This is one skill I developed through the diploma. Also I’m involved in a large number of multi-functional projects within the company, dealing with a large number of different personalities from different backgrounds.
Any advice for first year students?
I recommend first year students join clubs and societies; I joined the hockey team myself. It’s a major thing for employers to see how you can combine your extra-curricular activities with your academic work.