Mind the Gap! 

The biggest career adjustment that I have ever experienced was the jump between matric and first year. It was a jump from a world of certainty and familiarity to a place where neither of the two existed yet.  It was a huge adjustment. Yet, it was one of the best and most fulfilling things I have ever lived through.

On a platform at London’s train station, you’ll find the writing, “mind the gap”. This literally means be careful of the gap between the train and platform as you board the train. It also means, in a metaphorical sense, ”look for hidden areas of unfulfilled promises, customer needs, and missing information” (Linkner, 2021). In other words, look out!

I would like to say it was a positive attitude that made university so much fun, but it is much more than that. I embraced the learning in every moment, from sheep dissections to genetics’ practicals, to placing leaves under a microscope.  I quickly found out the road to a BSc was not easy but I was determined, asking many questions as needed.  What then are the career choices for a BSc degree, especially in an applied science field such as Horticulture, Agronomy, or Animal Science? I will point out a few. More can be found at www.agrijob.co.za/career-directory/.


Firstly, you can study Agronomy, Horticulture or Plant Pathology, and provide technical support on weeds, pests and disease control with an integrated pest management approach, or soil health and plant nutrition. You inevitably play a role in sustainable agricultural production and food security.

Or you can choose to serve in a commercial role. Technical Sales, Key Account Management and Marketing are sought after career paths. Here you visit farmers and use your knowledge to sell products, in the Plant or Animal Science field, depending on your specialisation.

These careers can be integrated with other disciplines such as Engineering. For example, Environmental Engineering is where you focus on water, soil, air, energy, and waste management, or Industrial Engineering where you focus on systems efficiency, ERP systems and comprehensive data analytics.

Animal Science is a career field where you specialise in either nutrition, physiology, or breeding. You can also study Veterinary Science (selection permitting!), specialising in animal health. In Animal Science, many career paths interlink, which is an advantage.


Photo by Farrinni on Unsplash

I asked an anonymous source what advice she would give first years. She said that you need to look for a tutor if you struggle, as tutors are there to help. She also said that you should look for a mentor to guide you through challenging times.

My advice is similar, and it is that you should embrace every opportunity. Find out for which applicable additional courses you can enrol after graduation or while you are still studying, as this will ensure a CV that will stand out.


Don’t take yourself too seriously, smile and make memories. Make friends because YOLO (You Only Live Once).

In the words of Nelson Mandela:

 “There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

The gap is what you make of it. You can choose to shrink back, disappear in the crowds, and be intimidated. Or you could play small and be unaware of what is out there. Or you can step over the gap, and start your career journey as you study, remembering YOLO, a slogan for life!


Compiled by Tanja Werle