Future Foodie / Columns

Transitioning from school to work

It’s been a few months now since I graduated and started working. The rapid-fire information dumps have subsided, or at least I now have become acclimated enough to know the frequently-used company acronyms and am not left bewildered by conversations with coworkers and managers.

While work has included less abstract reading and scientific experimentation than graduate school, and is more focused on attaining on-target results as quickly as possible, a few similarities exist between school and work. There is still “course material” to learn, but no syllabus is provided, so a good deal of self-teaching is required. The initiative to ask key questions is a must. Instead of my program of study including exploratory courses like grain processing, statistics, carbohydrates in food or analytical bread baking, my “first semester” at work consists of learning many software programs, company procedures, product offerings, processing capabilities, pricing limitations, business strategy and ingredient sourcing, as well as everyone’s name and role.

A few of the biggest lessons I’ve learned thus far are not particularly original: “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” and “Two or three heads are better than one.” After fruitlessly searching for a commercially produced, kosher/pareve, heat-stable, oil-based cocoa flavor myself, it was revolutionary for me when a coworker simply suggested asking the flavor expert down the hall to recommend one. After all, this expert knows the options the best. What a novel idea!

I’ve discovered first-hand how time is of the essence in the for-profit industry. Workers must gather information as quickly as possible, make a justifiable choice based on the facts attained and prioritize tasks effectively to ensure that time lines are met. This can be a lot to manage when first learning all of the unfamiliar software programs and protocols.

Thankfully, I discovered that coworkers are wonderful resources for sharing experience-based knowledge and recommending a plan of action. Since interactive training is such a large part of on-the-job learning, and projects often require a good deal of teamwork, I’ve observed how invaluable interpersonal skills are.

An appreciative thank-you goes a long way, and there are multiple correct ways to accomplish the same task. Keeping an open mind to learning new work practices and adapting to procedural/organization changes has helped me become accustomed to working with many individuals in a corporate environment. Also, I’ve noticed that my efforts to return aid provided are well-received, and the continual give-and-take of assistance helps foster a congenial, winning-team atmosphere.

Finally, a piece of advice I received for being successful in graduate school seems to be just as applicable—if not more so—in the professional world: Don’t just identify a problem, offer a feasible solution and be helpful.



Elyse Buckley recently graduated from Kansas State University and is now a cereal research and development technologist at Kerry Ingredients and Flavors.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine 

Recent Articles by Elyse Buckley

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Golden Boy Pies

For the complete story on Golden Boy Pies, see “The classic appeal of Golden Boy.”

4/14/15 2:00 pm EDT

Gluten Free: The Rising Growth Market

On April 14, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery will launch its 2015 Editorial Webinar Series with a web event on how Gluten-Free is impacting the commercial snack and bakery market—the first of four scheduled web events.

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine

sfwb march 15

2015 March

March's Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery publication features our cover report: "Canyon Bakehouse redefines gluten-free" Plus Much More!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Sweet-Savory Flavor Combinations

When it comes to snacks, what’s your favorite sweet-savory flavor combination?
View Results Poll Archive


Organic Production and Food Quality: A Down to Earth Analysis

Effects of Organic Production on Food Quality is the first comprehensive book on how organic production methods influence the safety and quality of foods, based on an unbiased assessment of the latest scientific findings.  The title is a 'must-have' for everyone working within the food industry.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook IconTwitter IconYoutube IconLinkedIn Icon

The Weekly Mix

Operations Weekly Logo

Written by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery editors, our Operations Weekly weekly enewsletter provides bakers and snack food manufacturers with up-to-the-minute news, ideas and industry trends.

Sign up today!