"There are so many good memories, whether it be the informal yet engaging teaching style and absorbing lessons, the time spent with friends, to the light-hearted moments chatting with the staff. My time at Hadlow not only progressed me academically, but also grew me as a person as well."
Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Animal Management
"I became interested in a career working with animals at an early age, sparked by a birds of prey experience day I did when I was nine. I was lucky that Hadlow was local to me, and its specialism gave me additional peace of mind that I would be better supported studying for a career in the sector.
"The highlights at Hadlow were many: having constant access to the Animal Management Unit and related facilities, as well as the off-site study trips. My group especially enjoyed our time at Sandwich Bay for the actual trip itinerary, which involved visiting the bird observatory and an evening bat walk with a thermal imaging camera, but also the unexpected moments, such as the opportunity to see barn owls up close.
"There are too many good memories for me to pick just one, whether it be the informal yet engaging teaching style and absorbing lessons, the time spent with friends, to the light-hearted moments chatting with the staff. My time at Hadlow not only progressed me academically, but also grew me as a person as well.
"My course definitely played a part in securing jobs after leaving Hadlow. Whilst I already had good knowledge and a volunteering position in my chosen specialism - birds of prey and falconry - before starting college, it definitely gave me opportunities to further my knowledge in this topic. It allowed me to broaden my knowledge of other animals and aspects of conservation and ecology through choosing the wildlife pathway in my second year.
"A few months before graduating, I was approached by an existing contact offering me a part-time position in a local falconry centre; this was my first paid position. With the support of the staff at the college, this turned into a full-time position.
"In early July 2019, I was offered an amazing opportunity to work overseas in Dubai with a reputable falconry business. I jumped at the chance, moved to Dubai and began my current role in mid-September the same year.
"My role involves having my own small team of birds, which forms part of a bigger team made up of other birds and my colleagues. We train the birds to be part of demonstrations, presenting to thousands of tourists each year. Education and promoting the continuation of falconry are at the forefront of what we do. We also have trained Harris Hawks for use in eco-friendly bird abatement at some of the 5-star hotels and other venues across Dubai.
"No two days are the same and you never know what could be happening next, although a big part of my job is to predict this as best as possible!
"My new role is also a big personal step for me. Whilst I’ve been abroad before, I’ve never lived away from home for any length of time - so to do this halfway across the world is an experience for sure!
"In terms of career highlights, I have many great memories of volunteering, and the excitement of gaining my first paid role in what I loved doing got me on the employment ladder within my chosen career. The best way to put it is that I probably skipped a few rungs on that ladder by coming out to my current role in Dubai! This was only possible because of my work both personally with volunteering and researching my chosen topic, networking and my time at Hadlow. To have a well-recognised qualification from a reputable college on my CV was surely a big help.
"My advice to prospective students would be to try to find your own specialism. If you don't have this already, then college is a great place to find it by being open-minded and trying as many new experiences as possible. Once you've found what you want to do, graft away. People aren't going to take you seriously, especially professionally, if you don't know your stuff!
"Whilst you need to have the knowledge and skills in place, they are useless without creating opportunities for yourself. Networking within your chosen industry and specialism is one of the best ways of doing this. All of my career opportunities so far have been made possible by networking. You have to remember that the animal industry is highly competitive and the greatest way of standing out is being known in some way to the person or company you're applying to."