The 6 Most Popular Questions Asked By Students & New Grads

The Career Showdown 2018 was a great success.  If you weren’t able to be there you didn’t get the chance to ask 30+ Food & Beverage industry professionals about their job, education, skills, etc., …boo!

Don’t worry, Marin kindly reflected on the most common questions he was asked over the course of the evening and has provided some amazing feedback;

I am a first-year student. What should I do to increase my chances of landing a job upon graduation?

Kudos to you for taking the initiative so early! You have almost four years to gain valuable technical knowledge, upgrade your soft skills, and build your professional network.

Try to narrow your choices around what you want to do after graduation by speaking to people with industry experience. Use FoodGrads, your faculty members with industry connections, your existing network and online tools, such as LinkedIn, to meet people. Remember, nobody will be able to give a recipe for success.

However, by listening to the experiences of others, you will form a clearer picture as to what your path might look like. If your school offers a co-op, take advantage of it. You will gain new skills, meet people and build your resume. Co-ops can sometimes be the proverbial ‘foot in the door’.

Finally, your career plan is a little bit like a project plan, dynamic and constantly under revision. That’s completely fine.

I am in my last year of studies. What should I do to increase my chances of landing a job upon graduation?

It is networking time! Everything that applies to the first-year student from the previous question applies to you as well, but on a more compressed schedule. Additionally, you want to make sure your contacts know you will be available soon.

Update your LinkedIn profile. Reach out to your industry contacts and meet up over coffee. Ask them to tell you more about the role of interest. You are not asking for a job. Instead, you want to learn as much as possible about the role and what skills are expected from the ideal candidate.

Now compare that to your skills and you will have an understanding what to work on to improve your chances of landing that job down the road. Additionally, your contact will keep you in mind when a role comes up and you are ready to apply.

How did you get where you are today?

I’ll be honest with you. Pure chance was a big factor. I also like to think that my education and perseverance were the other factors that steered me in the right direction. Ten years ago, I didn’t have a crystal-clear picture as to what I wanted to do after graduation. Maybe that’s OK, but I have meet people who knew exactly what they wanted to do well before graduation.

I hope that FoodGrads can help you gain that level clarity. Having a vision and a plan is key. And personally, I wish I had had access to FoodGrads back in school. It would have given me an opportunity to learn from the insiders as to what the life in the industry is like, what the opportunities are and how I can prepare for them.

What does a day in your job look like?

The day usually begins by catching up on issues that may have arisen early in the morning, followed by connecting with the team on the floor to obtain a pulse on what is going on and understand if they need any support. A meeting with the plant senior leadership team follows.

In general, the rest of the day can be somewhat unpredictable. If a significant issue arises, everything else drops and we focus on resolving it. Important skills in the role are work prioritization and delegation. After all, FSQA is a team sport and we have a very capable and strong FSQA and plant team.

I try to spend some time each day on continuous improvement; that is making processes and programs more efficient or effective (that’s one of the many examples where Six Sigma skills come in handy. Continuous improvement may seem like a slow process, but over time even small daily changes can add up to a lot. Coaching the team on resolving issues, whether technical or soft in the nature, is another important aspect of the job.

What do you like the most about your job?

Most definitely coaching and developing others. The coaching in generally either tactical (short-term) or strategic (long-term). Tactical coaching usually relates to overcoming a current challenge. Strategic coaching aims to develop the employee based on where they see themselves in the future and/or to help strengthen the team. For instance, we might coach on how to complete a metal detector validation (tactical). Or we might work on developing communication skills that will help the employee advance to the next career level and help her become a more integral team member (strategic). I think one of the most rewarding professional experiences is to see the employee use the advice to grow and succeed.

What do you dislike the most about your job?

Probably the unpredictability. Unfortunately, you cannot plan your day. Well, you can, but when a problem knocks at the door, and if it is a big enough of a problem, that will take precedence over your plan. Having worked in Six Sigma before , that was probably one of the toughest adjustments in my current QA role. Fortunately, the support network is wide, from my own team, the plant team all the way to the corporate team. The support certainly makes it easier to cope with the unexpected challenges.

Author: Marin Pavlic

Marin Pavlic is presently FSQA Manager with a major Canadian consumer packaged meats company. He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt with experience driving continuous improvement in Manufacturing, Maintenance and Food Safety. His educational background is in nutritional sciences, food safety and business. Marin lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons.

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