Future of Foodservice Student Spotlight: Melissa W.

Posted by IFMA August 06, 2013

Tagged in Educational Foundation foodservice internships Optimize
Melissa W. is a University of Illinois junior from the greater Chicago area who spent her summer interning at IFMA. Find out what she had to say when we asked her a few questions about her internship experience and future career. Uiuc -logo

How has the internship enabled you?
It has given me a broader perspective on the foodservice industry. I never realized how huge the industry was. I was also surprised at how many connections exist in the industry. I've been very fortunate to be able to network with some of the industry's leaders.

What are 5 programs or projects you participated in during your internship?

  1. I attended IFMA's Foodservice Fundamentals Fast Track which is a one-day event that provides a basic understanding of foodservice for people who are new to the field. This event took place before my internship started, so it acted as my training course. It provided me with the core knowledge I needed throughout my internship. It also gave me a chance to network with IFMA members.
  2. Another event that I had the opportunity to attend was IFMA's Strategic Issues Series which is a one-day event specifically for foodservice manufacturers that covers important issues. This event allowed me to see how manufacturers work and think as I was able to sit in on group discussions covering challenges in the industry. I also was able to network with the manufacturers.
  3. One of my mentors and I were invited to an on-site visit with Vanee Foods. We were shown around their facility by Mike Vanee, vice president of sales. It was really interesting to see product being made and packaged in the plant. We also had the opportunity to see the R&D team working with a customer on a product. The visit was exciting and I was able to meet most of their employees. 
  4. My main project throughout the internship was a database project for the membership team. I helped research and populate IFMA's database with information on their manufacturer members. This project was truly a "kill two birds with one stone" situation - this information was important for IFMA's purposes and for my own. I was able to research companies I never knew about before that I could end up working for in the future. 
  5. My internship also involved working on various marketing projects. This included helping with the "Fresh From IFMA" monthly e-newsletter, member communications and articles for the website. I enjoyed seeing these projects through from start to finish. I would draft the first copy of these projects and was able to see the final product go live. I also had the oppotunity to review statistics such as the open rate and click-through rates which allowed me to reflect on my work and determine what resonated with IFMA members. It's surprising how much wording and formatting really affect the readers' interest. I have learned new writing skills that I can apply to my school work.
What was your first job in foodservice?
In the past year I was able to experience two job shadows - one at Hillshire Farm and one at  Newly Weds Foods. They were both hands-on and very rewarding!

After graduation, what is the position you are hoping to get?
I don't have any solid plans set for my career as of now, as I want to experience more before I make up my mind. After I graduate I am either going to further my studies or go straight into work.

Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you?
I consider my advisor at school my mentor. She has helped me with many things, including putting me in contact with IFMA for this internship! Everybody here at IFMA is also supportive and they have taught me a great deal during my time here.

What are your hobbies?
I love cooking and trying new foods. I also enjoy being active.

What is your favorite meal?
All I need is a good piece of salmon.

About the IFMA Educational Foundation

The IFMA Educational Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing, or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.

Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Educational Foundation? Contact us at ifma@ifmaworld.com

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