Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry
We met Alice Gosling whilst in her third year of a Food Science degree at the University of Nottingham. Her curiosity for a future career in chill was sparked when she attended the University’s Food Science Summer School in 2012. A year-long placement in industry went on to give her a taste and now she’s excited about the prospects on offer.
What ‘A’ level subjects did you study at school?
I took Biology, Chemistry and Business Studies. The first two because I love science and knew I’d need them, the last one was just because I was interested.
When and why did you first become interested in Food Science?
Before ‘A’ levels I hadn’t heard of Food Science at all. I was interested in food and science and knew I wanted to do something in the field of food. But the options seemed to focus on catering and becoming a chef – I wanted to work on the technical side.
So when our Head of Food Technology told us about the Summer School (while I was doing my GCSEs) it sounded interesting, I applied and was delighted to be accepted. I’m really grateful to CFA who sponsored my place.
How did the Summer School help/inspire you?
Those few days really did open my eyes about the industry. Before then I admit I didn’t really have a clue about the variety of roles available. It gave us the chance to be really hands-on, from product development to sensory work. I enjoyed it so much that I went on to attend Summer Schools at Leeds University and I now help run the University of Nottingham Summer School. I’ve already come full circle!
Tell us about your placement
I spent a year with Samworth Brothers on two of its sites – at Bradgate Bakery in Leicester and Kensey Foods in Cornwall. I worked in process technology, and Quality Assurance support and technical.
The twelve months really allowed me to get my teeth into the roles (excuse the pun!) as it was very practical and hands-on. During the year I worked on a specific foods, such as a special croque monsieur. We took the food from the New Product Development team and turned their idea into reality – working with colleagues from other departments we took account of every aspect from size and shape to nutritional and microbiological considerations.
While there I was fortunate to be in the ‘right place at the right time’ and was invited to cover roles while Samworth were recruiting for full time positions. During this time I worked on raw materials and also re-wrote the Quality Systems Manual. Again this gave me a real insight into what the many diverse roles entail. My manager was very encouraging and I was able to prove myself capable to taking on responsibility. It was a great experience and really did cement my determination to work in chill.
Working on sandwich production had many benefits. We had taste panels every day at 10am – my taste buds got very accustomed to a savoury mid-morning treat!
Did you have a career goal in mind when you applied for University?
Not really, I knew I wanted to work in chill. It’s fast paced, dynamic and the short shelf life of the foods mean that everything is so time-critical. I really love that everything happens so fast, there is no room, or time, for mistakes.
The placement really gave me the understanding of chill and made me more determined to pursue a career in the industry.
What are your long term career plans?
It’s too early to decide! I want to work in technical and have the chance to move round. Auditing appeals to me but I’m looking forward to getting more experience under my belt first.
I’m so pleased the CFA sponsored me for that first Summer School, and I remember Kaarin Goodburn (CFA Director) giving an Assembly Talk, these really did open my eyes to the opportunities. I cannot wait to get out there and make the most of them when I graduate next summer (2018).