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Fall 2002 - Food science

Destination Purdue > Fall 2002 - Food science

Food science students get a taste of real world experiences

By Molly Brock

Ferguson and advisor

Photo by Molly Brock

Sarah Ferguson, a freshman in food science, is discussing her class schedule with her academic advisor, Stacey Duderman. All freshmen within the Department of Food Science are required to meet with their advisor on a regular basis during their first semester at Purdue.

If you are dreaming about interning for large food companies such as Hormel, Kellogg's or Frito Lay, then that dream could become a reality with the help of the Purdue University Department of Food Science.

"Nearly 85 percent of Purdue food science students obtain an internship," said Gwen Shoemaker, the Department of Food Science placement coordinator. Internships allow students to get hands-on experience while working for a company. Companies including Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Nestle and Campbell's have hired Purdue undergraduate students.

Carrie Burbrink, a junior in food science from Columbus, Ind., has had two internships with Nestle. Her first internship was with Nestle's flavor division, where she worked in product development. While there, Burbrink worked on making some of Nestle's flavors and sauces into concentrates. Her second internship was with Nestle USA, where she worked on duplicating flavors and sauces, specifically barbeque and chocolate sauces.

Burbrink has also worked in the Purdue food science pilot lab. "I made a lot of contacts that helped me get my internships," Burbrink said. "Also the staff kept me updated on new internships offered by companies."

Shoemaker helped Burbring set up interviews and informed her of upcoming information sessions for students. "I'm responsible for setting up interview times and locations with the students and companies," Shoemaker said. "I try to make it easy for both the student and the company."

In addition, the department uses faculty members, the Center for Career Opportunities and the College of Agriculture to find internships for students. "There is a great demand for food science students," said Stacey Dunderman, food science academic coordinator. "Food science can be applied to a lot of jobs, even though it is a specialized field."

The job placement rate for food science graduates is 100 percent. Dunderman attributes that to internships and the hands-on training students receive. "Internships allow students to figure out what kind of jobs they like and don't like," Dunderman said. "There is the potential to gain a full-time job wiht many of the companies after the internship is complete." "It's never too early to start thinking about internships," Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker and Dunderman encourage all their students to network and not get discouraged. "My best advice when applying for internships is to be confident in yourself so you can be a successful intern," Burbrink said.