After studying agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, Florence Giles was offered an opportunity she did not want to turn down – even though it was temporary.
Covering maternity leave for a member of the marketing team at Meadow Quality, a livestock marketing group, she had previously been relief milking, but wanted to step away from self-employment.
“It was an opportunity when leaving university,” says Florence.
“I saw this job advertised on the university jobs page for students. Even though it stated it was temporary, I saw it as a chance to progress and open my contacts via networking at shows and conferences.
“Before university I ran an organic micro dairy – one of the few dairies that sold milk via vending machines at the time. One of my roles was marketing the milk through the vending machines and online sales, so I had some experience of marketing.”
Growing up on a dairy farm, the choice to go to university was almost made for her, after sustaining a nasty injury.
She says: “It prevented me working in the milking parlour for long periods of time and restricted how much physical work I could do. When the doctors told me to stop milking and not knowing how long for, the news broke me mentally.
“With the support of my family, I applied to the Royal Agricultural University in 2016 and was offered a place the same day. I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing.”
Florence had always wanted to be a vet and helped her dad out as much as possible on-farm running pigs, cattle and sheep, as well as a dairy herd.
After starting to help relief milk early on, she went on to attend college and now hopes to be able to take her marketing and acquired skills from Meadow Quality back to the farm one day.
“My dream is to go back and run a dairy unit with a diversification so I can put my marketing skills into practice,” she says.
Her current role is varied, ranging from checking company emails to organising the marketing budget, sending out market reports and calf prices, as well as social media.
She also helps design adverts for magazines, chooses sponsorships and ensures everything is on target for shows the company attends.
It is nice though, she says, to work in an environment with people who are from similar backgrounds to hers.
“The girls in the head office with me are farmers’ wives or farmers themselves,” says Florence.
But as more is done to coax young people into the industry, does she believe there are opportunities out there?
She says: “Yes, but you must work hard for those opportunities and show passion and dedication.
“I have worked hard to get where I am. I have been knocked down, but you must get up and dust yourself down.
“I am not going to sugar coat anything – do not expect an amazing wage when you leave university, you have gone from school or college to university to working in the real world.
“Not everyone will be nice and want to be your friend either, but keep going and push your way along.
“Show willingness to learn, listen and be honest. If you have a sense of humour that always helps.”