I’m sure many of you have wondered: What’s it like to graduate and get your first job? What do employers want and expect of me as a recent grad? What is it like to move into a full-time job in the food industry?
Well I have (some) answers for you!
I can only really speak for myself and my personal experience, but these are the lessons I’ve learned in making the change from student to employee.
When you first begin your job search it can be a little daunting. The food industry is so varied and has so many branches, that it can make applying for jobs a bit overwhelming. It can be tempting to apply to every posting you see, or only to a very specific few. But my advice is to search with an open mind. Look for work that aligns with your interests and maybe even past experience.
In my case, school had taught me that I enjoyed the process of product development and would likely also enjoy the environment, and the work. Starting your first job will always be a little scary, but doing your best to enter an area you’re familiar with can help make the transition easier.
Employers know that this is your first job and while you may have had some part-time experience, internships or co-ops, most managers will recognize that this is your first time as a professional and they don’t expect you to know everything right away.
In my case, I worried that I wasn’t learning fast enough or progressing at the right pace, but an honest conversation with my boss helped ease a lot of that fear. The most helpful thing I could do as a new employee was listen, observe and ask good questions. I took a lot of the lessons I learned from university and applied them to my work life, and treating work like an extension of my education really helped me.
Always listen to feedback
For example, working as a team on a project, listening to feedback from the team, and generally seeing it all as a learning experience both personally and professionally has helped make the transition more enjoyable.
There will always be something foreign about moving from a schedule where you decide what work you do and when, who you get to work with and what your time looks like to a schedule where the work is given to you, you work with a mostly constant set of people and your time is scheduled regularly.
For some, this is a welcome change in routine. For others, it may take some getting used to. Regardless, it is one of the inevitable changes when moving from the student life to the working life. There are many things you can do to make the transition easier- join a gym, make new friends, get to know your city and more. But the main thing is being patient.
Be patient in the job hunt – do your best and put yourself out there!
Be patient when starting new work – success comes with time and dedication, all you can do is work hard and be attentive.
Be patient with yourself – you are a work in progress, like every professional once was!
Do your best to listen to those around you, learn from their experiences and use that to grow as a young professional. Your first job as a food grad may be a great fit, or it may not! Some get lucky and stay 12 years at their first job and some stay 12 months. Regardless, it is still one of the best opportunities you’ll have to hone your skills, gain more knowledge and develop yourself as a professional.
Author: Yenci Gomez
I am a bright and enthusiastic Food Scientist. I’m extremely passionate about product development and innovation, having worked in savoury and sweet PD for close to 2 years. My experience has allowed me to try my hand at QA/QC, R&D and PD, which has given me the ability to multi-task creatively with a clear vision of impact on all teams.
My strengths lie in using my creativity, problem solving, teamwork and resourcefulness. I look for inspiration and innovation from all sources.