Kathy shares her food career story. By taking charge of her health she took control of her career. For now she leaves the ‘career door’ open, because you never know where your passions may take you (and it’s that the best)!
When I was in high school I developed and unhealthy eating habit, I was overweight with a BMI of almost 29 kg/m2 (not that this is the most accurate way of measuring healthiness!).
Although I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong, I knew I had to make some sort of lifestyle change. And so the first step I took was to enrol myself into the family studies nutrition course. In this class I learned about how people make food choices when influenced by nutritional, psychological, cultural, and global factors.
Understanding how to make suitable dietary choices, and learning techniques on how to prepare foods, allowed me to live a much healthier life than before.
Around this time (my final year of high school) I was also faced with the dilemma of figuring out what I potentially would like to do for a career, so that I can accordingly apply to a post-secondary institution. I loved the family studies nutrition course, but at the same time I was also very engaged in the sciences.
I was accepted into the University of Guelph in the nutrition and nutraceutical sciences program, which combines the best of both worlds.
Four years later with an Honors, Bachelors of Science degree, I was once again faced with the same predicament only with even more questions. What specifically do I want to do for a career? What kind of nutrition and nutraceutical jobs are out there that I am qualified for? How do I get my foot into the door?
I figured doing something is better than nothing. I updated my resume and applied to as many food/nutraceutical related jobs as possible. During this time I realized that the food industry is more focused than ever on food safety and quality.
After six months of job searching I was fortunate enough to be hired into the meat industry. I was initially employed as a part-time employee and after about two months I was working full time hours. Through lots of hard work and perseverance I finally obtained a full time position after roughly a year and a half.
One year later, I was promoted and I am grateful to my bosses that I am now the senior food safety and quality regulations (FSQR) technician. In this role I have gained a lot of useful skills and knowledge about HACCP, participating in BRC audits, and working with CFIA just to name a few.
The most valuable skill that I can take away from this is how to deal with people.
This by far would be the most challenging part being in food safety and quality because there are so many personalities you have to deal with. For example, production is tricky to manage as their primary focus is to create high volumes of product to meet the orders. Although it sounds like you are working against them, you are actually working together as a whole for the best of the company. Since I truly believe no matter what department you are in, we all care about the product we make. And so striking a balance between the two and having the ability to communicate is very important.
From my experience so far, I have learned that you should figure out what is meaningful to you and pursue it.
It doesn’t have to be specific, just an area of interest is good enough as a starting point. And when you work at a job, do your absolute best because you are building your brand and as a result opportunities will become available.
My philosophy in life is to never stop learning. Being young with many interests and still uncertain of my career (because do we ever really know for sure?),
I will continue to chase all of my life passions.
Author: Kathy Truong, Senior Food Safety & Quality Regulations Technician
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