If the Food Industry is Growing, Why Aren’t Employers Hiring Students?

Thank you Anthony for this honest account of your job search experience …..

Being enrolled in a highly demanding academic program is difficult in itself.  However, I wouldn’t have chosen any other area to specialize in.  A Bachelors Degree in Food Science is the right choice for me.

Our class size has drastically diminished since my first year which originally made me think that Food Industry careers will be abundant for the minimal yet skilled graduates.

Which brings me to the primary intention of this post.

If the Food and Beverage industry is growing, why are employers not interested in bringing in current students to fill summer employment and allow them to gain valuable experience?

This would only benefit the organization in the long run. I started researching many food, wine and beer facilities within 200 kms of my residence as early as December 2018 to voice my interest in any summer employment within their companies.

I created approximately 32 personalized cover letters and sent in packages along with my resume.  I also took the initiative to apply on the Federal Government student work site.

Conclusion–although quite disappointing–I succeeded but only because of my determination.

Out of the 32 personalized mailed packages and/or emails, not 1 company even acknowledged receiving my cover letter and resume. Yes, not even a standardized email stating they have received my items and will keep me posted should an opportunity become available.

The Federal website allowed me to log into my profile and since mid December, it had stated that my resume was sent to both mangers in the CFIA Guelph and Hamilton locations for review.  By the end of January, the message had not changed.  Without knowing any managers or their contact info, I used the internet to my benefit and found a personal email for the region’s supervisor within the CFIA.  He quickly responded and forwarded my email of inquiry to the Guelph manager.  Within one day, she reached out to me requesting a phone conversation.  While her intention was not for the purpose of hiring me, she gave me valuable information and advice which could potentially lead to a position with them next summer.

I Had to Network Like Crazy!

As late February was approaching, I was not going to simply sit back and wait for an organization to whom I applied,  to contact me.  I had waited all last summer with no success.  Without intimidation, I started networking with companies and people of interest on my LinkedIn.  I responded to a general productions position and went for the interview.

Although I gladly accepted the offered position, I was still a bit dismayed that it didn’t really provide me with the valuable experience that reflected my courses and studies.  I went to the company’s website and didn’t hesitate at all to further apply to a FSQR summer positions even though I had been hired for the Productions one.  I networked with the FSQR supervisor on LinkedIn, messaged to ask questions, exposed my interest in the specific job posting and voila, was called for an interview the next day.

They moved my employment from Productions to the FSQR position.  I am finally happy and relieved that my upcoming summer position will give me incredibly valuable experience in the most perfect position with a key player in the industry.

Here’s My Advice….

In closing, my advice to all Food Science students is let your guard down, don’t be afraid to be pushy and reach out.  Finally, networking is key!  It’s a ‘dog-eat-dog world’ out there and you have to make yourself stand out from the rest if you want to succeed.

Most importantly, people like Nicole Gallace with FoodGrads are taking the initiative to encourage the food industry to hire students and to stress how it can be a mutually benefiting endeavour.

Most, if not all companies want to hire people with hands-on industry experience, whether just for summer employment, part-time employment or full-time.  However, how are we students supposed to gain relevant experience if employers are not providing us the opportunities to do so?  We are their future of food!!

Author: Anthony Rizzuto – Student, University of Guelph

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