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Heather Simon is a 2018 International Gold & Silver Plate Society stipend recipient. She attends Michigan State University and is majoring in Food Science with a minor in Beverage Science and Technology. Find out what she had to say when we asked her a few questions about her foodservice scholarship and future career.



What is your major & what made you decide on it?
I am a Food Science Major with a minor in Beverage Science and Technology. I always really loved science classes, but I didn’t like how some of the concepts weren’t very applicable to everyday life, making them harder to understand. I soon realized that Food Science allows me to learn the same interesting scientific concepts, while being highly applicable to the everyday foods that I eat. I also soon became passionate about innovation and the safety of the foods that people eat. I love my classes and am SO glad that I fell into this major.

How has your stipend enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
This stipend will allow me to worry less about finances and instead be able to better focus on my studies as well as my food-related extracurricular activities. This stipend also allows me to continue to pursue unpaid internships, such as working for BRITE Bites. This stipend gives me the opportunity to continually take on new challenges, while not needing to worry as much about finances.

What was your first job in foodservice?
My first job in Food Service was working as a waitress for 4 years between working for Big Boy Restaurants and Olivera's Bar and Grill. After getting a taste of working with food, I knew definitively that Food Science was right for me. My first real job within Food Science was working as a Co-Op for Bimbo Bakeries USA. I was able to work on product innovation, bench-top development, and learned a whole new skill set in my time there.

What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job after graduation would be working in Research and Development for finished food products. While I do not have a strong
preference on the food medium yet, I think that candy, sweet goods, and snack foods are all very interesting.

What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
Everything that I have learned so far in my food science classes at MSU is very applicable to the food industry. In one of my favorite classes, food microbiology, we have learned about different microorganisms, the environments they thrive in, symptoms that the host experiences when the organism is ingested, etc.. It is absolutely fascinating to learn about food and how various microorganisms affect the foods that we eat both in harmful and beneficial ways.

What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
I think that one of the greatest barriers as a student going into the food industry will be sourcing ingredients. With climate change, natural disasters, deforestation and an increase in demand, some ingredients are becoming tougher to source. Because of this, I believe it will be tough to produce flavorful, cost effective, healthy and delicious foods with a limited and expensive ingredient supply.

Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you?
One of my strongest food science influences was one of my friends/coworkers from Bimbo Bakeries USA. Rachel Gates graduated with a Food Science degree from Clemson University. She has helped me navigate the Food Industry by offering advice with my resume, suggesting job opportunities, and helping me navigate college as a Food Science student.

What is your favorite meal?
I tend to enjoy very asian foods, such as sushi, baos, and various Thai foods. My favorite meal lately has been Pad Thai with chicken, but it often changes as I come across new and unique foods frequently.

What companies have you worked at for internships?
I currently work as an Intern for BRITE Bites, a start-up probiotic snack company founded by a fellow MSU student. I also work in the MSU Dairy Plant, not as an intern, but still gaining valuable food service experience. Finally, I recently did and 8-month Co-Op with Bimbo Bakeries USA working in Research and Development.

About The IFMA Education Foundation

The IFMA Education 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.

About People Future 2025 

The IFMA Education Foundations new industry initiative, focused on attracting the best and brightest talent into the foodservice industry. Click here to learn more.

How to help the next generation of foodservice!

  • Support the IFMA Education Foundation by making a donation
  • Get involved in the People Future 2025 initiative

Contact us at ifma@ifmaworld.com.