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Research and Development Intern - Food Science
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to do a placement to enhance my CV and to gain skills that may aid me acquiring a graduate job after finishing my studies as I knew any further education was not something I wanted. I also wanted to opportunity to gain experience in a factory/manufacturing environment to see if it something I would enjoy. The opportunities to also network and travel were also factors I considered.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Application process

Initially it was a CV/personal statement screening with two directed questions about your skills on an online form. After that it was a telephone interview with 2 people talking through my CV asking what I could bring to the job. The last stage was a full day assessment centre with a presentation/group discussion and then a panel interview with competency and technical questions.

Main responsibilities

My main responsibility was my project that I was allocated from day one of my placement. It was a quality improvement project based around the dairy science of our milk products within the Tassimo range. To do this I had to formulate hypothesis' to identify the cause of the failure in quality and form solutions to solve these incompetencies. Subsequently, I worked in the lab and pilot plant (a small scale factory) to reformulate the product to fix the quality issue. All analytical testing and administration of my experiments and trials were my responsibility. Regular presentations to senior management were also required to approve gates along my project timeline.

Typical day

Before trials I would have to acquire permits to work, have training on equipment and work with statisticians to create a DoE (Design of Experiment). A typical day during a trial would be working in the pilot plant 9-5, this involved physically weighing and processing the ingredients in order to produce the final products. Then I would analyse the samples for different attributes such as pH/viscosity/total solids and particle size distribution. After trials I would be analysing my data for trends and forming conclusions to drive the project forward.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

The high level of responsibility was fantastic - people really valued my opinion which was important to me as my background was not food science. I loved travelling for work - this happened 3 times in the course of the year. There was also a big group of interns (~20) so there was a real tight knit group of students that you could interact with professionally and personally. Also I got the opportunity to represent JDE at 3 open days which was great fun and was involved in new intern recruitment.

Challenging aspects

For me, it was the immersion into an academic topic that was not my degree title. However over time I grew more confident and it didn't become an issue.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

General laboratory and planning skills for experiments such as designing experiments, conducting them and then analysing the data. Also a scientific approach from experience can be applied to many fields.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Definitely, after the past year I know product development is for me, it's fast paced fun and exciting to see products you've had an influence on hit the shelves.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Do a placement! It's scary to leave uni behind when most other people don't. But it will make you so much motre confident and employable.

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Form completed: 04 Aug 2017

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