“Career matchmaking” was in full swing on Monday afternoon at IFT18’s Career Center Live, where recruiters and candidates came together for an afternoon of networking and information sharing. Some said that this year’s event had extra elements of energy and excitement because it took place on the food expo floor, putting job seekers in close proximity to exhibits by some of the very companies that might soon be hiring them. About two dozen employers, including AAK, Coca-Cola, Ecolab, Kerry, Impossible Foods, Ingredion, and Merieux NutriSciences, set up shop to interact with candidates.
There’s an element of storytelling to the experience, explained Jena Brown, head of talent brand & attraction for Kerry, North America Region. “We love stories and want to hear from prospective candidates to learn what excites them, what motivates them, and what frustrates them,” said Brown. “At the same time, we want to tell our story of ‘Curiosity with Purpose,’ and how it enables innovation and growth at Kerry.”
Framingham State University student Benjamin Montemurro shares Brown’s perspective. He says that when he meets with those in the industry he likes to find out about their stories—in particular, the factors that set them on their career path. Montemurro is currently completing an internship at Concord Foods, and team members there suggested that he check out IFT’s Career Center Live. He’s especially interested in employment options in the area of confectionery product development, he said.
University of Illinois senior Keelin Frank is also seeking opportunities in the product development arena. She and her fellow Illini food science major Claire Bollinger said the open networking event was a great way to explore potential career prospects. “I’m just keeping my options open,” said Frank. “I love seeing the small companies and the large companies. The people [at Career Center Live] are all great.”
Kerry has been a frequent participant in IFT recruitment events, Brown said. “In the past, IFT Career Center Live has acted as a conduit to possibilities. Our business partners, executives, and marketing partners have all been our booth guests—they get asked questions and offered perspectives they probably don’t get in a formal interview environment. Regardless of hires made, this experience brings value on so many levels. “
For flavor company T. Hasegawa USA, Monday’s event “was a great way to get our brand out there and look for candidates,” said marketing manager Laura Rossman. The company is in a growth mode, she said, and it is seeking to fill several positions at locations around the country. Just an hour or two into Monday’s event, “we’ve already received a ton of resumés,” Rossman noted.
The event also traditionally proves valuable for recruiters at Ingredion. “The Career Center at the IFT expo attracts many talented and up-and-coming professionals in the food industry who continue to advance science and push the boundaries of innovation,” said Elizabeth Adefioye, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Ingredion. “Connecting with, attracting, and retaining great talent in a competitive marketplace is a vital element for our success.”
Brigham Young University food science major Christian Kennedy said he took a few days off from his current internship to come to Chicago and check out permanent positions for after his graduation next year. He’s hoping to find an employer that would be willing to support his next educational goal, which is pursuing a dual graduate degree—an MBA and a master’s degree in healthcare administration. Originally a premed major, Kennedy hopes to eventually combine his interest in food science with his interest in the health profession. “I feel like it would be relevant and helpful and fulfilling,” he observed.
Participating Career Center Live employers have scheduled more than 500 on-site interviews for Tuesday and Wednesday.