Sara Alan-Smith

Animal Welfare Officer at the Blue Cross

Sara completed an undergraduate degree at Hartpury and has been working for Blue Cross for 16 months now. She did her eight week work placement there and then volunteered for half a day a week whilst completing her degree.

Sara's Hartpury Experience

"I was working in public relations in the energy sector, which was a great job for a number of years, but I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. Going to Hartpury University was great because I knew that was what I wanted to do. I found all the tutors were really passionate about what they did and they were really keen to support students. And it’s a lovely environment, a really nice campus in a nice location.

My degree looked at all animals - companion animals, farm animals and wildlife. There was quite a lot on evolution; understanding where animals come from. I studied where companion animals come from and how they’ve evolved to live in a domestic environment. We also looked at animal welfare, how you can measure it and what you can do to improve it. We looked at the behaviour of animals and how you can understand what they are communicating by the way they behave."

Developing Industry Connections

"Everything I do in my job links back in some way to the modules I studied as part of my degree. Advice for people wanting to work with animals: Try to gain as clear a picture as possible about the path you think you’re going to want to take when you go into the workplace. I think that can be really hard to do when you’ve just left school, so it is very useful to get some work experience before you choose a course. I would recommend voluntary work to see if that is really something you’re passionate about. If you want to develop a specialist position in an organisation or even become self-employed then you will need a higher qualification as well as practical experience."