A Guide to a Career in Food

If you are a student or about to graduate in the field of food science, then there is a good chance you are thinking about employment. Education is very valuable, but many food companies are looking for people with experience too, whether it is in research and development, quality assurance, or production management. Below are some great tips that are going to help you with the process coming from someone who has gone through a lot of interviews and received a lot of job offers from some of the best companies.

 

  1. Finding Positions to Get Your Foot in the Door

A good thing about food manufacturing companies is they have a lot of positions within the facility and most like when they hire from within. You can use a skill that you have to get into the door. There are some workers who have been promoted from line workers to kitchen managers,  R&D positions or quality assurance technicians because the company saw that they were good workers. You shouldn’t be afraid to get started from the bottom. There is a lot of experience you are going to get when you get your foot in.

 

  1. Researching the company

It is a good idea to take time to learn more about the company you are interested in working with, like the brands/products they produce and the special processes involved with the production line. When you “talk shop” with the interview, they will see that you are knowledgeable in that field.

 

  1. Finding an internship in an organization or company you are interested in working for

While I have not been in an internship position, it is a good way of getting experience in the industry. You might be limited in what you are allowed to do because you aren’t a full-time employee, but don’t be discouraged. If you prove to be a good worker, the internship can easily lead to full-time employment.

 

  1. Using your connections through the school and IFT

Using good references is a great way of complimenting your resume. You should try going the extra mile when taking a course that can have long-term benefits when you need a letter of recommendation or reference. If you are interested in applying for a job at a meat plant, try asking your professor of meat science to be a reference. Make connections at professional meetings like the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas which is held every June. You have the chance of talking to industry professionals and asking those who know if they can be your references to learn about new possible opportunities or develop professional relationships for future opportunities.

 

  1. Seeking out additional certification

This is going to help in building your knowledge base. There are certifications you can obtain as a professional in the food industry, such as HACCP and ServSafe. Some common certifications for food safety auditors. There are some companies that are going to pay for such training if they are required by the job you are interested in, but it is better to have it already.

 

  1. Exhibiting your tech skills

The world today is running on computers. This is the same case with food companies. Most companies are going to expect you to be good when it comes to computers because most use software for developing formula breakdowns for new products, recording quality assurance data, designing labels, etc.

 

  1. Taking language courses at school

Speaking more than one language is always going to be a good thing. One language that has proved to be useful in my years of working in the food industry is Spanish. I have worked for many food companies, and each of them has had a Spanish-speaking population. It is also common to find job postings that require applicants to be bilingual. Even if they don’t post that, most of them will prefer candidates who are bilingual. If you put on your resume that you can speak, read, and write in a given language, then be prepared to show your proficiency during the interview. There are times I have been asked questions in Spanish to find out whether I know the language. Learning a new language is not that are, converse with speaking the language and practice as much as possible.

 

  1. Using social media tools

Companies are following social media trends using Twitter and Facebook when screening applicants and posting job openings. This is common sense, but keep your page private. If you have to keep it public, make sure it is professional. Stay on top of job postings because that is how you can ensure your resume is going to be looked at first.

 

  1. Best sites for looking for a job

If you are a member of IFT, you can check out the IFT Career Center and the job postings provided. There are many sites that post jobs. Facebook has also become an important tool when looking for a job because of their jobs section. If you are interested in federal government inspection and research jobs, visit www.usajobs.gov and town or state or board of health website for state and town jobs. You also need to check out the Career section of the website of the company you are interested in.

 

  1. Highlighting Interests, special school projects, or professional affiliations

Highlight these things because they can help you. Being a member of a professional organization such as IFT is going to help. You can highlight them in the cover letter, resume, or at the interviews. This shows that you stay on top of current trends in the market. This is also a sign that you are passionate about your profession.

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