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Networking with purpose at Career Center Live

June 27, 2017

Meeting at the Career Center“Career matchmaking at its finest.” That’s how IFT President John Coupland described the activity that takes place each year at IFT’s Career Center Live job recruitment, interviewing, and networking events, and the IFT17 version lived up to the hype. Hundreds of job seekers and prospective employers came together for the first phase of Career Center Live activities, the open networking event on Monday afternoon. Recruiting representatives from 25 food and beverage companies, including Ingredion, Kerry, Tate & Lyle, Kellogg’s, Mars, Corbion, and Impossible Foods, set up shop in the Sands Expo Center to informally meet and greet prospective employees.

Kerry brought three recruiters to the event after discovering last year that one person wasn’t enough to keep up with the steady stream of job seekers who visited the booth, said Alisha Barton, university talent acquisition manager for Kerry. “It [Career Center Live] is an important resource,” said Christine Geissler, Kerry’s vice-president of human resources, North America. “There are great professionals [at the event]—both up and coming and those already in the marketplace.”

Kellogg’s R&D director Shawn Busse said the company filled four jobs as a result of its participation in Career Center Live last year. “It was hugely successful,” he said. This year the company has fewer open positions, but participation is still valuable, Busse said, because it can be a way to identify candidates for future openings. It’s also a good way to “help keep the Kellogg’s name top of mind” with potential job seekers and to get a sense of what they think about opportunities there.

Ingredion’s Joan Garcia, a member of that company’s talent recruitment team, agreed that information flows two ways in career recruitment events. It’s not all about meeting candidates, she explained. “It’s [also] important to get the name and the brand out there,” she said.

Impossible Foods talent acquisition manager Matt Giambruno said the plant-based burger maker was back for its second Career Center Live event. “We’re starting to ramp up our hiring,” he said, noting that the company is moving beyond the R&D phase into actual production and is looking for team members in areas including product development, process engineering, and supply chain.

For New Mexico State University microbiology major Leah Garza, who isn’t graduating for another year, Monday afternoon offered an important preview of opportunities in the field of food science. She’s considering a number of disciplines before deciding which might be the best fit for her skill set, and the networking event gave her some great exposure to the food industry. She said she was particularly impressed with the number of companies that have a strong focus on sustainability.

Oluwabukola Lashore, a recent food science graduate from the University of Wisconsin–Stout, said she was making the rounds of participating companies on Monday afternoon hoping to learn about R&D job openings. Her job search strategy for the event was to arrive early in an attempt to beat the crowds.

Career Center Live organizers project that more than 500 interviews will be conducted over the course of two days of formal interviewing on Tuesday and Wednesday.