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Career Change
by Chris Storn

I loved my time working on the pig farms when I was a boy. I always knew it was also going to help me in my future career as a vet; but it was not to be, and instead I am now a civil servant of 12 years, but that’s another story.

It’s fair to say that I was na´ve back then and, perhaps, also gullible. I ended up with an array of agricultural qualifications and experiences through the roles I had over those heady years and never did I think they would come back to haunt me. But whilst being interviewed for my first job in the civil service, I became aware of a few of things that have helped me ‘present’ my experiences in the porcine field (no pun intended) more carefully in more recent times:

1: My final agricultural role was working for a company who sent me to various pig units nationally to cover staff holidays and shortfalls. Apparently I need to be more aware when telling people the job title given to this role was “Pig Relief Specialist”.

2: It seems my certificate confirming my attendance on the course “On-Farm Collection and Processing of Semen” doesn’t carry the weight I had anticipated. I’ve even tried to explain that it was purely voyeuristic too, but that only made things worse. Perhaps it’s just because my name is spelt incorrectly on the certificate?

3: My main specialism was in artificial insemination, so I told them that I used to get sows pregnant and that, as a consequence, I have lost count of how many new lives I have brought into this world. Their reaction to this was certainly not as I had hoped, but I just don’t know how else to explain it. To avoid any similar reactions in future, I tend to keep this to myself and avoid harping on about it too much.

4: It beggars belief, but I now know that my daily walk through each paddock amongst the pigs to check their health does not count as experience of ‘stakeholder management’.

5: When asked about my ability to work un-supervised, I thought a great example would be when I fed the pigs each morning. This involved filling a special trailer with their feed (pig nuts) and then operating the trailer so that it blew the correct amount into each paddock. So “I accurately shot pig nuts every morning to maintain appropriate livestock weight”.

Needless to say, I got the job.