Are you transitioning to a career in the food industry but don’t know where to start? No worries if you don’t have a Food Science degree or a culinary background, because the main ingredient towards succeeding in a food industry career is an open and agile mind. Follow these three tips for a solid entry into the food industry!
1.) Get Curious Food is a commonality we all share in our daily routine – after all, we have to eat to live. But when was the last time you thought about how a food product was made, or whose duty it was to make it safe to consume? Find a food product you love and encounter on a daily basis, and take a closer look at it. For example, mayonnaise is a common condiment found in sandwiches, salad dressings, and sauces. Upon further research, you may find out that mayonnaise is an emulsion, a mixture of suspended oil droplets in a continuous phase of water. You may even look up how mayonnaise is made in a factory for a better idea of how all the ingredients come together. Even packaging labels can reveal knowledge about your favourite foods that you didn’t even know about. By staying curious about the foods you eat, you will have a greater sense of understanding and camaraderie with your passionate colleagues. Books, ingredient labels, patents, academic papers, and in-depth cooking blogs are all great resources for this!
2.) Understand government guidelines. Understanding your country/region’s food safety and quality standards and laws will aid you in building your expertise in the food industry. If you currently reside in the Netherlands, the RIVM has a page with abundant resources on food safety and food product guidelines. The EU has its own umbrella of food safety and policy guidelines – staying updated on new laws and requirements can help you stay properly informed about current and ever-changing food policy. Familiarise yourself with your local government’s policy and you will be well prepared for understanding product safety, quality, and overall life cycle.
3.) Network, then exchange! “Networking” is a buzzword that often gets thrown around in professional development, but the real way to properly engage with your network is to seek colleagues who are in the field you want to be in, and then open up a professional dialogue with them. For example, if someone was interested in working in HR in a food company that focuses on sustainability, they may reach out on LinkedIn or another professional website to a representative who works at a sustainability-focused food company. Reaching out is only Step 1 – Step 2 is to ask for availability for a phone call, Zoom call, or coffee meet-up. If you are able to take good notes and facilitate a great conversation, you will learn much more about the industry you want to work in than just exchanging information and a business card.
Using these 3 guidelines, you will feel more prepared and confident in your foray into the food industry. Setting yourself up for success isn’t easy, but when resources are abundant and you cultivate a curious mind, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.