What’s it really like to study agribusiness and agricultural sciences at UQ? What does the day in the life of an agribusiness and agricultural sciences student look like? What kind of job can I get with an agribusiness and agricultural sciences degree? And how will UQ give me the skills I need to face the future, when I don’t know what the future looks like?
Genevieve is an agribusiness and agricultural sciences student and Dr Ammar Abdul Aziz is a senior lecturer in agribusiness. They’ve teamed up to answer some of your questions and help you decide what’s right for you.
What are some of the coolest jobs your former students are doing?
Ammar: One is a commodity broker in the United States. There's another one who created ice cream from banana waste. I think that’s exciting.
How does the way you learn at UQ give you the skills you need to face an unknown future?
Genevieve: I think it teaches us the skills to face an unknown future because it's about hands-on experience. It's about applying the knowledge that the lecturers teach us and putting into practice every day. And it gives us the skills because if we already have a base ground coming from an agricultural background in agribusiness, it teaches the skills to talk to businesses, not just the farmers. That's important in agriculture.
What opportunities do your students have to get your hands on experience in our industry?
Ammar: We've got what we call a capstone course. It builds on your experience in the first semester and second semester and in the third semester you get to actually work with consultants with major agribusinesses.
What do you think employers in the industry are looking for? And how do you think UQ has equipped you with these skills?
Genevieve: I think employers in the industry are looking for people who show a commitment, integrity, and a passion for agriculture and agribusiness and are also driven in the industry to not just go ‘we’re doing this at the moment’, but to go ‘alright, we're doing this but how can we expand the commodity or expand the enterprise’. UQ has given us some updated knowledge of the industry. Because UQ looked at it and go in 2020 this happened. So then they'll apply it to a subject where you can be real hands-on about technology that's coming through and learn from those examples.
What makes a good student? Are they the same things that make a good job candidate?
Ammar: When I see someone committed turning up the class, doing the work on time that's half of the battle won already. That's a sign of a good student. When you're a good student, you're also a good employee, or potential employee.
What does the day in the life of an agribusiness student look like?
Genevieve: So you'd start by going to class in the morning, and then you might have a break for two hours in the middle, so you'd go to get something to eat from the café at Gatton. And then you'd sit in the library and study and then you'd go to your next lecture. And then after class there’s also associations like the UQ Agribusiness Association, they do other outside activities like dinners with social networking, so you can get to know outside of uni, companies and future employment and have a chat to them about what they're doing.
If you were employing the next agribusiness graduate, who would you be looking for?
Ammar: Someone who actually thinks outside the box. Because one of the things that I think is important is students that can critically think.
What's the most interesting thing you've learnt that's not part of your coursework?
Genevieve: The clubs and associations do a really good job of teaching us different skills that not just the lectures or the courses teach us. The UQ Agribusiness Association has taught me how to network with people who may be CEOs or heads of big companies and to look up to them, but also to just understand that they’re actually a person and to ask them about how their day is or ask them about what their business is and try and to get involved that way.
If you could give me one piece of advice that would set me apart as a job candidate, what would it be?
Ammar: Number one, is getting the experience while you're studying, getting experience and I'm saying this not just from my perspective, but from what I've heard from all those, you know, CEOs that we've got coming in and telling what they're looking for. They want to see you to be brave, someone who would stand up and ask a question, not afraid to ask a question and they want someone who could think outside the box. Here's a problem – solve it for me.
What have you learned about yourself since you began your studies at UQ?
Genevieve: It’s taught me to be down to be down to earth, be in love with agriculture, which I am. I take hobbies up that involve Agriculture and Agribusiness and to broaden my communication skills with everyone, and especially like you say, we get people coming in to speak to us from the companies. And I think that also gives me the experience, and I've learned that I can communicate with them on a general knowledge basis.
What do you think a regional university campus like Gatton can offer students?
Ammar: We've got students that come from different backgrounds. But some come from the livestock industry, I’ve got students that come from cropping, and we also got students coming from other countries. That's number one, where you get to share a wealth of experience amongst yourselves. And the other thing is about the facilities that we have at Gatton, we've got a dairy, we've got a piggery we’ve got funky stuff happening in the vet school. We've got a horse that you can sort of dissect, get clinical experience.
The other thing I think is also important is the world-class agricultural science research that's happening at UQ, students have the opportunity to expose themselves with the ongoing research that's happening and keep up to date with what's changing.
What makes UQ a great place to study agricultural science and animal science?
Ammar: The interesting thing is that the Gatton campus is geared towards teaching agriculture, animals and animal science. It's about 60 minutes away from the St Lucia campus. And there are buses, free buses that take you from St Lucia to Gatton twice a day.