I’m Sam McBride, a CAFRE, food graduate. It was during my teenage years, growing up in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, I developed an interest in the agri-food industry.
A friend who previously completed a course at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) recommended that I check out the range of food courses on offer. On their advice I attended an Open Day at Loughry campus, which is located in Cookstown, County Tyrone. During the Open Day I discovered the range of food courses from Level 3 to Degree Level on offer and got to see the impressive food innovation and food technology processing facilities that students learn in.
With the food and drink industry being one of the largest employers in UK, I was struck by the high employability rate of CAFRE food graduates. I soon realised that studying at Loughry campus would provide me with a great opportunity to gain relevant qualifications to begin a career in the agri-food industry.
Back in 2010 I enrolled on to the Level 3 National Diploma Food Technology programme at Loughry campus as an alternative to studying A-Levels. I was able to apply the theory I learnt and the skills I developed through the completion of a 12 week work placement with a local food manufacturing business.
The placement was really worthwhile, providing an insight into the food industry and valuable experience.
Following completion of the Level 3 course, I decided to continue my studies at CAFRE. I enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Degree in Food Technology, which is validated by Ulster University.
The degree consisted of a wide range of topics, including food quality, packaging, manu-facturing, laboratory testing and new product development. The variety of modules covered in the course exposed the various career paths in the food and drink sector.
During my degree studies I also had the opportunity to get hands on experience through regular practical classes in the
Food Technology Centre, sci-ence laboratories, product dev-elopment kitchens and sensory suites.
On graduation in 2015, I was delighted to secure a position with Glanbia Cheese as an Operations Graduate. During this programme I developed a deeper understanding of business operations. Within one year, I was promoted to the role of Production Manager. In 2019, I took up a position in Moy Park as Farm Compliance Manager, a commercial role bridging the link between producer and processor focusing on farm to fork connections. In June 2021, I was appointed as a Hatchery Manager for the business.
During my time at CAFRE I made many friends. In fact, I even met my wife! I would highly recommend CAFRE’s courses to anyone with an interest in a career in the agri-food industry.
Through CAFRE’s excellent facilities you will equip yourself with employability skills for life. Maximise all the opportunities you are offered, whether that is applying for a bursary, completing additional training courses, working summer jobs or placements.
Use every opportunity offered to make your CV stand out. The food industry has lots to offer graduates with the right qualifications and experience.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.