Working at the Food Science Pilot Processing Plant (FSHN PPP) and the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) has been the major highlight of my college experience. I started here in my second semester of sophomore year, but I really wish I started freshmen year. Nevertheless, all of the experience I have gained in these 2.5 years has and will continue to impact my life for the better.
Although my academic work at college should be my greatest takeaway (it definitely is one of my biggest takeaways), I would say the technical work I was able to perform at these facilities is what I will hold on to long after I graduate. I had the privilege to get hands on experience at these facilities not only with very important professors, but also with very important companies. The amount of knowledge I gained every day on various projects has made me the student I am. All the projects and work we were exposed to gave us the opportunity to apply what we learned to real-world situations. There was a wide range of projects; we worked with state of the art equipment, did food product development, helped professors in their research, and helped major companies on their vital projects. This gave me the upper hand and made me a great competitor in my search for internships and full-time jobs.
Not only did I gain great skills and technical work at these facilities, the workplace culture was fantastic. I believe workplace culture is a crucial factor in any job, and this one felt like it cannot be matched. Each boss/supervisor became such a great mentor to me throughout this time. They have supported and helped me and the rest of the students in anything we needed and did an amazing job in teaching us everything they know. It was evident they were not just our bosses, they were our teachers too. I also learned from my fellow student interns. The student employees are a mix of students from different grade levels and different areas of study so we were all exposed to many different perspectives and knowledge that we may not have experienced in our specific classes. We became a great cohort over the years and continue to welcome in many more students.
My greatest professional opportunities have come from working at the FSHN PPP and IBRL, so to these facilities I dedicate a lot of my success. The summer after my junior year, I interned for The Kraft Heinz Company as a Manufacturing Management Intern. I went from a small scale facility to a full blown manufacturing plant that produces ALL of the Oscar Meyer Hotdogs in the U.S. and Mexico. Because of everything I learned at these facilities and my experience, I was able to get my foot in the door for this amazing food company. This internship led to me receiving a full-time job offer in what I really wanted to do. Now, as I am about to graduate, I am excited to start my career entering The Kraft Heinz Company’s Trainee program on the R&D track. Oh, how the time flies when you’re having fun!