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Career day attracts teens to jobs in food science and technology

For some teens, Saturday mornings are for sleeping late, playing video games, and texting friends.

But not long ago, nearly 60 high school students gathered at 8 a.m. on a Saturday for Career Day at the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Battle Creek, Mich.

The event was hosted by the New Technologist Pipeline within our Research, Quality, Nutrition and Technology (RQNT) team with the goal of encouraging middle and high school students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Through this “peek behind the curtain” of a global food manufacturing operation, the students learned how food science goes beyond cooking and that career opportunities abound in our industry.

As one RQNT team member told them, “I have always believed that as long as human beings eat, a food scientist will always have a job.”

In developing a fast-paced, interactive morning of activities, the RQNT team focused on a product they know teens love – Eggo® Waffles – while spotlighting four key areas of food production: development, engineering, testing and evaluation, and packaging.

In keeping with the day’s theme, the highlight was a TV show- inspired competition for the most original Eggo Waffle creation.

I had the fun job of judging their work – and believe me, it wasn’t easy! These teens were super creative in producing truly unusual and delicious food combinations based on Eggo Waffles. The winning team created a savory combo of pepperoni and shredded cheese – and everyone went home with Kellogg’s foods and merchandise.

Kellogg supports career development opportunities like this because teens and 20-somethings are the future of our company. It’s important for us to create a career pipeline for this next generation of talent, by inspiring young people to pursue study in the business-critical science and technology fields.

In fact, attracting new talent in food sciences is so vital for our company that Kellogg also endows the Kellogg Company Theodora Morille-Hinds Food and Nutrition Science scholarship at Tuskegee University in Alabama – named for our Vice President, Global Quality, Technical Standards and Image.

Judging from comments from the post-event survey, participants were impressed with the recent career day contest and their learnings.

“I never really knew what food science was all about,” was how one student put it. Another said, “My mom works at Kellogg, but even she didn’t know this is what happens in food science.”

In addition to learning about potential future careers in food, these teens also learned the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the waffle.