When it comes to landing an internship or job, having the right skills and experience pays off.
Such was the case for Allison Little, a senior in food science, who is interning at The Hershey Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Little oversees test trials, writes reports, presents findings and tests new ingredients.
“When I stumbled across the Hershey opportunity, I decided to take a shot in the dark,” Little says. “The 15-month co-op has given me the chance to get a better look at the food industry, get hands-on experience leading my own projects and have a better idea of what I want to do with my food science degree when I graduate.”
A number of experiences andconnections Little had early in her college career contributed to her successful application. As a junior, Little enrolled in the professional development in food science course, taught by assistant teaching professor Kate Gilbert (’07 food science).
“The professional development class helped me find ways to better describe my strengths to future employers and get feedback on my resume,” Little says.
Gilbert also serves as the internship coordinator for the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. In this role, she helps students like Little find applicable work experience for their major and career plan.
“Allison shared with me about the Hershey co-op position and wanted to know if she should apply. I said yes because the position was a good fit for her, plus I encourage students to apply for any position that interests them,” Gilbert says.
Little also credits the experience she gained in associate professor Aubrey Mendonca’s food microbiology lab for preparing her for the co-op.
“It gave me the background of understanding how scientific projects are laid out and executed,” he says.
Little started her co-op in the summer of 2019 and says many of her experiences contribute to her career goals. She’s been able to work on the reformulation of existing products to use more cost-effective ingredients and maintain the quality of the product. She also has supported line trials at plants to see how the different lines work.
“This co-op has helped me gain more focus on the type of work environment I enjoy and what I value as an employee,” Little says. At the end of the day, making sure students are prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation is Gilbert’s goal.
“The end goal of attending college is to enter a career you are passionate about,” Gilbert says. “It takes a village of advisers, career services and faculty to make it happen, but it is worth it to get students headed out on the right career path.”