Career Connections


Abigail Sparks

Major: Food Science



Year: Freshman
Hometown/State: Iowa

Company/Organization: West Liberty Foods
Company/Organization website: http://wlfoods.com/
Title: QA/Regulatory Compliance Intern
Destination: West Liberty, IA
Timeframe: May 2013-July 2013

Advisor/Coordinator Email: kgilbert@iastate.edu

I was responsible for...
Arranged & updated HACCP documentation booklets Scanned and digitally organize all past and present labels for consumer products Worked with R&D to update all raw material specifications within company database Aided superiors with additional daily tasks related to product labels and product evaluations

I accomplished...
Learned a lot about HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) very quickly. Label approval; learned the necessary detailing and items required on all food labels

My most valuable effort...
The HACCP booklet organization project was definitely the most time-consuming and detail-oriented project. First off, I learned in-depth of what the components of a HACCP booklet are and the role of FSIS in the food industry. Second, I am now familiar with the literature used within these documents. Additionally I learned what CCPs are and how the flow charts are broken down.

I learned...
This was my first exposure to the food industry on a manufacturing basis. When I was asked to prepare batch sheets for a consulting meeting, I learned about all of the different suppliers that contribute to WLF's products; sometimes even competitors! It had shown me how tight-knit this industry is.

I will never forget...
Hanging out with the different interns and touring different plant locations are some of the best memories I had from that summer. I was the youngest intern the company had hired for the summer, but the "big kids" still let me hang out with them. A couple of them are now ISU alum! They have all given me great advice during that summer and beyond on making job decisions, expanding experiences, and how to deal with not-so-nice people at work.

A surprising discovery...
I didn't expect that there are still people who are in higher leadership positions in the food industry who do not have a college education. They got to where they are because they worked hard to climb up the ladder. This does not necessarily change the manner in which I approach my profession but is a reminder to me that the effort you put forth is more important than the effort you gave to other activities in the past. Also, communication excellence is still a necessity in the industry when communicating more technical information to others.

Advice for others...
If you have the opportunity to do something different from your projects, or just need a day to "switch it up," DO NOT HESITATE TO ASK! You're working for the company to enhance your industry experience and knowledge of the workplace IN ADDITION to accomplishing your assigned tasks. I really wish I had asked to have a day of 'exploration' each week; whether to shadow a QA Tech, a R&D Scientist, Slice Room guys, or even sanitation.

I first learned about this career-building experience from...
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Fair!

I landed this assignment by...
Submitted my resume to the recruiting staff, had a phone call interview, and finally an on-site interview during spring break

I wanted this experience because...
To learn more about regulations of foods and food labeling.

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