Dreams can Come True

Dreams can Come True

Hello food safety friends,

Have you realised how tough it is to transition from being a university graduate to having a real-life job in the food industry?  In recent months we’ve had an increasing number of enquiries from university graduates looking for advice and career guidance.  We have also seen more and more industry professionals looking for ways to plot their own careers – whether it’s a change of direction or advice on “how to climb the ladder”.

These enquiries have been the inspiration behind the theme for our blog this month – Dreams can Come True…

From a graduate perspective we have the following advice for food industry “newbies”:

  1. Forget about starting at the top – for now, you belong at the bottom because that is where you will learn the most.
  2. If you have studied a food-related degree, you will be required to wear a hair net, safety shoes and sacrifice your long, painted nails and fancy earrings for a “plain Jane” look – no long nails, nail polish and no jewelry!
  3. Be eager to learn and take initiative – just because you have a degree doesn’t mean that you know everything… Listen to your colleagues, peers, and supervisors.  They have come through the ranks, and you will learn more from them than anyone else.
  4. Raise your hand for training – whatever training opportunities come your way, make sure that you are there.
  5. Develop your “people” skills – learn how to work with people; the sooner the better. Most of us have stepped on a few toes, disrespectfully voiced opinions, or acted outside our scope of responsibility. These are all career limiting moves.

For current industry professionals with a few years’ experience, we have the following career tips:

  1. Know what you like – more importantly, know what you don’t like. The only way to do this is to get as much industry exposure as possible.  Try and work in different areas of the food chain and various roles within the food industry.
  2. Plot your career and map a course of where you want to be by when – Knowing what you want to do will help you decide WHAT you need to do to get there (and how long it’s going to take).
  3. Make a list of training courses and industry experience you will need to obtain in order to realise your dreams – for example, if you would like to be a food safety auditor, you will need a few years industry experience as well as standard-specific training, lead auditor training, etc.
  4. Make the most of where you are right NOW – maybe you are not yet in your dream job but use the opportunities that you have now to get as much industry experience as possible.
  5. Never stop working on yourself and your relationships – Never underestimate the value of your personality, professional network, and inter-personal skills. Remember, people do business with people.

As a special introductory offer, we are running a virtual “Food Professionals Introduction to Industry” workshop on 12 April.  This workshop is aimed at preparing graduates for the transition from university student to industry professional.  E-mail ilse@progress-excellence.co.za for more information.

If you need some advice about your professional development and the various food safety, quality, health and safety and environmental management workshops we present, why not take a look at our website or e-mail us at info@progress-excellence.co.za for more information.  We would love to hear from you!

The Food Bites Team.