I had a few main objectives of my internship. 70 percent of my time was dedicated to a project dealing with granola bars, which I was assigned at the first week of my internship. Tasks related to the project included sourcing ingredients, making samples, using a bar wrapper in the small-scale pilot plant, and various analytical tests. Another 20 percent was devoted to meetings, training, or assisting others in the lab with their projects. I was expected to attend the weekly team meeting, safety training sessions, or other meetings hosted by Cargill business leaders. The remaining 10 percent was dedicated to networking and personal career development. This included "networking days" such as the Intern Welcome Picnic and touring the other R&D sites. I also initiated many "networking meetings" to get to know others in my building and department.
For 2 days, all 300+ interns and co-op'ers traveled to Minneapolis to attend the Cargill Intern Forum. The 2 days consisted of networking opportunities, Keynote Speakers from the Cargill Leadership Team, various career-advice panels, and a team challenge. I got to know so many peers, re-connected with a few fellow Cyclones, and learned so much about the Cargill business structure and environment.
What did you not expect?
Before my internship, I was unaware of the complexity of the food industry. The process to get a new food product onto the market is like training for an Olympic triathalon. Being in a research role is like creating the training plan. The safety considerations, quality control, consistency, and consumer interests need to be considered like a tri-athlete needs to consider the intensity of each workout, how many days to train, what specific exercises to do, and more. Consideration in each case has the potential for setbacks or successes. Relating back to food science and my experience at Cargill, I have a greater appreciation for successful product developments!
What advice would you give?
Use Cy-Hire to find companies that interest you, but then go a step further and check the company's website. That's how I found out about the R&D positions available at Cargill. At the Ag Career Day, I talked to the Cargill Campus Rep, expressed my interest in R&D and was connected that way.
How did you learn about this experience?
I was looking for internships in Cy-Hire, then ventured to the Cargill company page. I talked with the campus rep for Cargill at the Ag Career Day last year, and the process moved forward from there!
Why did you want this assignment?
I wanted this particular assignment to see how my work habits related to a research career in the food industry and if this was something I potentially wanted to do as a career.