Career Connections


Abigail Sparks

Major: Food Science



Year: Sophomore
Hometown/State: Iowa City, Iowa

Company/Organization: Land O' Frost
Company/Organization website: http://www.landofrost.com
Title: Quality Assurance Intern
Destination: Searcy, Arkansas
Timeframe: May 2014-July 2014

Advisor/Coordinator Email: kgilbert@iastate.edu

I was responsible for...
I developed training materials/protocols for Quality Assurance technicians on the packaging lines. I accomplished this by observing and frequently performing these tests myself. I tracked Protein-Fat-Free data of all incoming pork products and all cured ham finished product in order to determine if USDA standards were met.

I accomplished...
I put together 5 different training materials for quality assurance protocols that all technicians understood well. I gained a greater understanding of food packaging and was able to relate it back to what I had learned in the classroom. I had the opportunity to sit in on many food safety, quality, and operations meetings. It was great to learn more about the technical side of these departments. I participated in informal deli meat sensory panels looking at shelf life of product. That was interesting for sure! I presented my project work in front of the company's board of directors and VPs along with the 13 other interns.

My most valuable effort...
The PFF project took the most work, but I gained a lot of knowledge from it. The project required me to use Lock-Out-Tag-Out training, FOSS analytical machines, and many different kinds of statistical analysis. I learned a lot about the production process through this project, and if I had more time to continue the project, I know exactly what I would have done.

I learned...
Sitting in those food safety meetings brought along a new learning experience each time. This team is very good at preventing problems before they occur, and they do not under estimate the importance of switching gloves between production barriers. Listening to the thought process of a high-capacity team for food safety was a valuable experience.

I will never forget...
In my spare time on some days, I volunteered to un-box pork loins with some of the production employees. It provided an upper body workout for sure, an opportunity to chat with the other employees, and observe the plant environment around me. I learned a lot about company history while doing this, sometimes.

A surprising discovery...
Land O' Frost is one of those companies that is truly family oriented. I saw a lot of mutual respect among all employees; the plant manager even knew everyone's names! I know this is a characteristic that I want to see in my future employer.

Advice for others...
Don't be afraid to go the distance! Moving down to Arkansas was not easy; I had never been! But I am glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made that big move. It has made me a more independent person and a better traveler; both are characteristics that employees look for! Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! You never know what you'll learn!

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

I landed this assignment by...
One in-person interview, one phone interview

I wanted this experience because...
A processing-floor based job. My previous internship was in an office setting; I wanted to be more on my feet and on the move.

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