Making the move from your degree to start your career?
Moving into the working world can be daunting. When leaving education, you will be presented with many plausible directions of career paths but with uncertainty of security in unpredictable markets & questionable graduate employability rates within their chosen subject. It can feel like there is very little guidance on what is next and at Zest we know how important it is to get the facts.
One thing for certain is that the food industry will continues to grow. Currently, food and drinks is the largest manufacturing sector adding approximately £110 billion to our economy. If you are looking for a career that will give you security as well as the opportunity to work with house hold names look no further. The FMCG environment provides you with the tools to develop a varied and desirable skill set so if you are craving to not sit at your desk 24/7 the food industry may be what you are looking for.
It is surprising how little the food industry is discussed and really highlighted as having great careers paths. New TV programmes such as ‘Inside the Factory’ as well as a spike in health trends have helped the public interest and increased a discussion around where our food comes from. Regardless of whether you have a sweet tooth and would love to become the modern day Willy Wonka or take the opposite route with a health kick or something in between, it’s a thriving industry and now is a great time to explore it.
There are many exciting routes you can take and here at Zest we have specialist consultants that can support you within the following areas…
New Product Development
Have a creative flair and an all-round ‘foodie’? A career within New Product Development will give you the chance to get into the kitchen and be part of the brains that put the product on the shelf from concept through to launch.
Always aim for high standards and like to play by the set rules? Working within a technical team will mean you will be responsible for making sure that all aspects of the manufacturing process are compliant with food regulations and attaining the high standards of your customers.
Want to get into the thick of the operation? A career within production is a target driven environment that will ensure you reach customer demand. Keeping the factory running and putting improvement techniques into process to make the site operate in the most efficient and cost effective way will provide you with daily challenges and give you plenty to get your teeth stuck into.
Keen to stick to the tools? The engineering market is booming following a huge skills gap after a lack of funding to popular apprenticeship schemes. Like all businesses, manufacturers come in all shapes and sizes meaning that whether you have an interest in the mechanical side of engineering or fancy turning your hand to electrics (or both!), you will be able to turn your hand to maintaining old machinery or further improving the exciting world of automation.
There are many other areas of course that you can explore – wherever your passion lies, the food industry will be able to deliver.
So, how can you stand out?
To get your foot in the door your best shot may be through a voluntary (or paid) work placement, an apprenticeship or a graduate scheme. Although there are many businesses that will take you on board with the many transferrable skills you will gain from a food based degree, if you want to stand out, real life, practical work experience will definitely do this.
Similar to finding employment, it may be unclear on where to start on securing a placement. Larger food manufacturing groups may be the best place to start as many will advertise for the following academic year. There are many options from a specific placement scheme, placement year whilst still at university (sandwich course) or there could be the option to work whilst studying on voluntary or paid basis.
Lots of businesses will also value a proactive approach – if there is a particular sector you are interested in or you simply love the products that they make, get in touch with the site even if they are not advertising for volunteers. Getting your foot in the door whilst you are studying, doing the work experience and making a brilliant impression and will not just add value to your C.V but also provide invaluable exposure.
Whether you have a particular end goal in sight or just want to soak up as much work experience as you can in just a few short years, there is no doubt graduate schemes can often offer a fast track to the beginning of your career. Over a set time period, you will get the opportunity to work within various departments and may also work across multiple sites with different products. Typically you will find these across the larger groups with widely recognised brands.
Maybe you haven’t taken the University route yet or you would like to try your hand to a work-based, practical way of getting under the skin of a different part of the industry – an apprenticeship may be the way forward. You will learn on the job, be able to get involved in the real life day to day problems and become part of the solution while you learn and get paid in the process! If you’re a hands on Individual this could be a great option.
There is no set avenue that is best and all areas provide great experience to progress your career. If you would like some confidential advice and are interested in pursuing the food and drinks industry further, Zest can be here to support you. We support a numerous amount of graduates yearly and have a strong team who can direct you down the right career path for what you are wanting to peruse. We take pride in remaining in contact and work with individuals throughout their entire career. We like to look at ourselves as industry gurus who have all had a different path from graduating with a degree to starting on an apprenticeship at Zest!! Our team can relate to the questions that appear when you need to choose where you want to start. Each consultant specialise within Production, Operations, Quality, Technical, Hygiene, Engineering, NPD and Planning across the country. With established relationships we can put you in front of the right people to secure your dream role.
Get in touch today – 01780 483 999