Abigail Sparks

Company/Organization: Newly Weds Foods
Company/Organization website: http://www.newlywedsfoods.com/
Destination: Chicago, IL
Timeframe: June 11th 2015- August 14th, 2015
Advisor/Coordinator Email: kgilbert@iastate.edu


In my internship I had a total of three projects to balance; two product development projects and an ingredient functionality research project. The product development projects were for an on-going company project using encrusting technology. Ultimately the products would be frozen and microwaved or baked-back. In my research project I tested various kinds of gums, starches, and fibers in yeast-leavened bread dough to see which one(s) could prevent the rolls from drying out upon microwave heating.


For my research project I was able to determine that one gum and a couple of different starches could be incorporated into frozen bakery products to prevent dryness and toughness upon microwaving. I oversaw the product development process from ideation to pilot plant scale-up for both of my products. I worked with Marketing, Culinary, Sales, and other scientist to improve these products during the process. Even some of the higher-ups enjoyed the products!

Memorable experience

Being a part of the meeting with culinary, marketing, sales, and the scientists all together to discuss the different encrusted products that have been developed using this new technology. It was cool to learn how different departments find the pros and cons of each product and determine how the product MIGHT sell in the market place.

What did you not expect?

Scientists and hourly employees are always rotating through different departments with different focuses. There is a lot of internal scientist turnover. It isn't because someone is unhappy with their current job, though, it's because they want to try something new! Even beyond graduation, beyond masters degrees, there is still a desire to learn, gain experience, and be a better employee because of it.

What advice would you give?

There are trying days; there will be days where you're running around like crazy (metaphorically) trying to get everything on your to-do list checked off, as well as days where you hit a writer's block or things don't seem to go the way you want them to (your boss is unavailable, a machine is broken, ect.) Remember to take these days in stride. If you need help ASK FOR IT! Also, being that you are working for a food company, do not be afraid to try new foods :)

How did you learn about this experience?

I first met Deb Polcyn and Tom Kubica at College of Agriculture Career Fair my freshman year. Through activities with the Food Science Club, External Advisory Committee, and consecutive career fairs, I was able to keep them up to date with everything that I was doing. I had known about their internship program for a long time.

Why did you want this assignment?

This was a company I had admired for a long time because they are connected with nearly every company within the food industry; human, pet, and beyond. I wanted to have projects related to research & development because I wanted to expand my industry experience beyond processing and quality assurance

Career Connections