Possible careers in the future III

3 March 2017 · Enrichment Blog , News

Job Name: Apprentice Unit Specialist


What qualification/experience I came in to the job with: For this job role, you are required to have obtained GCSE C grade or above in English, Mathematics and Science. I had these qualifications plus others, but didn’t have any qualifications with regards to animal care, etc. If you have further qualifications towards animal care, training, etc. this would certainly help to get into a job role like this. The only experience I had before joining Mars in this position, is volunteering for the RSPCA as a home inspector and pet sitting, among personal experience with animals at home.

Through the apprenticeship, I am currently studying a Level 2 Animal Care Diploma. As well as this (in my own time), I am also studying a Professional Dog Training Diploma and other canine therapy and training courses to help better my chances to get the full Unit Specialist at the end of the apprenticeship.

What I do in my day: On a typical day, as a Unit Specialist, it is my job to ensure that enrichment and training in provided to my assigned dogs. This enrichment includes walking, playing with, providing socials, etc. So any time that provides entertainment or exercise to the dog. We are required to provide the dog with 7x 20 min recreation time and 5x 20 min training time. So it is down to us to make sure that all this required time is provided to the dog and if we have extra time, providing the dogs with more recreation or training is really beneficial to them as well as increasing their scores on their care plans. With regards to training, we have training plans that we follow to ensure that we can keep progressing the dog to the best outcome so they can perform what skill is needed to a quality standard. We use these training plans to keep a track of what stage we are at and what progression we are making with the dogs to help monitor them and ourselves. Although I am a Unit Specialist day to day, I do also have the element of the apprenticeship to deal with as well. So every week we get half a day off unit to study and do coursework towards our course. This course works fantastically with my everyday job as it really highlights legislation towards animal welfare, etc. and what we must follow every day in our job role as well as opening my eyes to other ways of working in farming industries, etc.

Best bits about my job: Best bits about my job? It is the whole job. Working with the dogs and my colleagues every day is incredibly fun and I am constantly learning. There are so many people here with a vast amount of knowledge on these animals, how to train, canine behaviour, etc. It is so good to be able to learn of different people and different styles so you can find a way that works best for yourself. But most definitely, the best part of my job is the amazing dogs that we have across site and how much satisfaction that this job gives you in working with them.

Bits I like less: Don’t really have any negative thing to say about the job. The only negative I have is walking the dogs when it is raining and stupidly cold, obviously. But you can always wrap up warm and have waterproofs so it’s not all that bad.

What career advice I would give my 16 year old self: If I was to give my 16 year old self advice, it would be to gain as much experience and qualifications in working with animals, training them, etc. Unfortunately my school and college didn’t provide any courses, guidance, etc. on working with animals and developing a career in it. I had to do a lot of research to myself. If I was to give anyone advice looking to start in a career working with animals, it would be to get your name out there. Just go and find professionals, employers, companies, etc. who work with animals and ask to volunteer, gain advice, get whatever experience you can because that is the best way of learning, is actually doing. Whilst also doing this, any certified courses that will help you learn more will also provide you with that extra help to get a job working with animals. All employers look for some form of experience before they would hire you, so don’t give them an excuse not to, go out there and make the best of what you can with every opportunity.

Job Name: Apprentice Unit Specialist

What qualification/experience I came in to the job with: At school I achieved grade A* in RE, an A in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English (Language and literature), Art and a grade B in Maths, History and Spanish. After school I had a bit of a mixed up college experience! I went to study AS levels at a local college, however after a rookie year I realised that this college was not the right place for me and it would be injustice to get grades which were not a true reflection of my ability. Therefore I made the hard decision to leave college and go out into the world and find animal related work experience!
In this time I gathered a wealth of experience! I spent a few weeks at a vets shadowing operations, vet consolations and farm visits. I also was fortunate to be given the opportunity to stay in London and spend time with the vets at the Kings Troop and Household Calvary which was a fantastic experience. Then I also found a local farmer who taught me how to lamb a sheep (prior to this I had never been within touching distance of a sheep) and since then I have been back every year to help the farmer. I also had a job at a local theme park where I had a variety of different roles, from working on reception to working with the animals on the farm. On my return back to a different college I studied AS levels and achieved an A in Biology, an A in Psychology and a C in Chemistry. AS levels are defiantly hard and I really struggled with exams so instead of carrying on to A2 I looked at apprenticeships as I learn better by doing. I was lucky enough to be offered an apprenticeship at 3M Healthcare where I carried out analytical research and development into asthma inhalers. I also was on day release to college so achieved a level 3 BTEC subsidiary diploma in applied science. I then applied for my current job at Mars.

What I do in my day: On a typical day at work I would primarily be responsible for ensuring that all the dogs are cared for adequately. First thing in a morning each member of the team is given a task such as preparing the dogs for feeding, making up the food and feeding the dogs and providing any treatments to the dogs. We then deliver care to the dogs that we are responsible for. We do this by giving them recreational time, such as taking the dogs out for walks, socialising dogs with each other and playing with them. We then also train the dogs to take part in certain trials following a written training program. Throughout training sessions we will assess the dog’s responses by reviewing their body language and rating how they cope with each step of the plan. We also will carry out grooms and health checks to ensure the animals are happy and healthy. Due to my role being an apprenticeship, I also spend half a day every week studying and completing coursework towards achieving a diploma in animal care.

Best bits about my job: I think that the best part of my job is being able to see how the dogs progress through their training programs. It is rewarding to see how each individual dog improves over time.

Bits I like less: Unfortunately I do not get weekends off very often nor do I get holiday times, such as Christmas! The downside to working with animals is that they require care every day of year with no exceptions!

What career advice I would give my 16 year old self: As well as the typical advise we all receive such as ‘do your best in school’ and ‘work hard’, the best advice I could give is to get all the work experience you can and do not follow the crowd. Do not feel that you have to do the mainstream A Levels then University route to get into the career you want. If I could go back I would have gone from school and into an apprenticeship straight away!

Job Name: Unit Specialist

What qualification/experience I came in to the job with: I had 11 GCSE’s and 3 A Levels in Drama and Theatre Studies, PE and Business Studies.

What I do in my day: My typical day involves the care and training of dogs and cats. We clean the dog pens ready for the dogs to eat, make up the food for 60 animals and feed them at various times in the day. I will, on a typical day, have 6 dogs to give recreation time (exercise and play) to and 5 dogs to train ready for upcoming research studies. Recreation time involves anything from a long run off the lead in the fields, play time with toys or a lead walk around the office and grounds, meeting people on our travels. Training involves using rewards, such as a piece of food or play time with a special toy, if the dog carries out a desired behaviour. This could be something such as sitting still for a measurement to be taken or chewing on a cotton wool pad to provide saliva for oral care research. The main thing is that every training session should be fun for the dog and the trainer. We also, measure bodyweights and help with the care and training of new born puppies. We also record measurements into a computer system and need to be very accurate!

Best bits about my job: You can never have a bad day with animals in my opinion! Our company have invested in research into human animal interaction (HAI) and the benefits of spending time with pets is very apparent in my job at WALTHAM. I enjoy talking to all the different departments at WALTHAM – from the vet team to the research team and learning new things. I enjoy the fact that my work is going towards creating a better world for pets. I am a real team player and enjoy working with unit team – it is crucial that we all work together as it is a very busy unit and without teamwork, the unit wouldn’t run smoothly. I enjoy watching dogs and cats progress in their training and have pride in the fact that I have helped them do this. I love that even working on weekends and days like Christmas day, is not a chore as everyone is committed to their role, and to the cats and dogs.

Bits I like less: Firstly, the poo! It comes with the territory but you have to be fully committed. Here at WALTHAM, we not only clean up the poo, but collect and examine poo – all for the welfare of the dogs and research purposes. It is crucial to a lot of our trials but it is hard to ignore the smell!! Also, working so closely as a team, you will get the occasional disagreement in opinion. This job is very good for developing your skills in teamwork.

What career advice I would give my 16 year old self: Having a vague idea of the industry I wished to work in would have helped me to get some background education before applying. One tip I would give is to do some extracurricular activities such as a join a sports club or team or a part time job. I think my background in customer services, data entry, lifeguarding and swimming teaching together have given me the people skills, computer skills and communication skills that I have which has helped me to succeed in this role and I think skills like that are very transferrable – specific skills such as dog training have been learnt on the job but my people skills and teamwork have been crucial to my success in this role.

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