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For Students

Where you BELONG

You’ve determined the right profession for yourself and now you want to explore all it has to offer. There is no better way to do this than by attending IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo.

As future IFT leaders within the food science and technology profession, undergraduate and graduate students of Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) are an active and integral part of IFT FIRST.

Here are the top three reasons you want to attend IFT FIRST:

  1. Endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the field and grow your knowledge base about the issues impacting the global food system.
  2. Connection with peers and food industry leaders who can help with your professional growth and career development.
  3. Participation in IFTSA competitions, networking opportunities and other fun social activities that will enhance your IFT FIRST student experience.

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Student Basics

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  • IFTSA Events & Experiences Guide

    The IFTSA Events and Experiences Guide is a comprehensive guide designed to provide students with resources and information about IFT FIRST. Learn about student events and competitions as well as get to know the finalists.

    Explore Program
  • First-Timers Session for Students

    If you are you attending IFT FIRST for the first time and would like to learn how to navigate the event, plan to join us for the First-Timers Session for Students on Sunday, July 16 at 3PM in the Student Lounge. We’ll walk you through the can’t miss events, introduce you to other student attendees and provide an exclusive tour of the conference. We can’t wait to meet you!

  • Networking/Social Events

    Past participants have noted the ability to network and socialize with peers from all over the globe as one of their favorite parts of the event. The IFTSA provides several opportunities to network with peers and professionals.

    Here is just a sample of the many social events you’ll be able to tap into:

    • IFTSA Student Lounge 
      This is a comfortable area open to students for gathering, networking, and relaxing between sessions.  Students are encouraged to visit the Student Lounge for networking opportunities, as well as an onsite guide for students and OFG swag.
    • Division Networking Reception
    • IFT Resource Group Networking Hours
    • Feeding Tomorrow Fund Student Celebration
    • IFTSA Closing Ceremony

    And these are just the beginning of all the great opportunities you will have to meet and learn from other science of food peers and professionals.

  • PepsiCo Meet & Greets

    As the IFTSA Student Lounge sponsor, PepsiCo is offering opportunities to casually meet with Food Science and Engineering professionals who work in various areas of R&D at the company. Attendees are welcomed to network with PepsiCo employees, ask questions about the company's products, culture, and career opportunities, and gain insights into the latest trends and developments in the food and beverage industry.

    Connect with PepsiCo in the IFTSA Student Lounge on the following days:

    • Sunday, July 16: 4:00pm-5:00pm
    • Monday, July 17: 3:30pm-4:30pm
    • Tuesday, July 18: 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • Student Food Innovators (SFI)

    The Student Food Innovators (SFI) program will harness the power and scale of IFT FIRST to network with peers and professionals, discover solutions, and ultimately understand how global collaboration and innovation are essential to advancing the science of the food.

    Students will choose a case study representing key areas of our global food system, then will be organized into teams and challenged to develop solutions using the vast knowledge available through scientific sessions and components of IFT FIRST.

    This program involves:

    Monday, July 10 at 7pm CDT: Virtual kick-off and information session for mentors (recorded for students unable to attend)

    Monday, July 17 AND/OR Tuesday, July 18 at IFT FIRST

    10-10:30am (after keynote speaker): Introduction to case study with mentor panel session Q & A
    10-10:45am: 15-minute walk of Expo floor (optional for students)
    1-2 hour: Office hour (specific time determined by mentor)
    4-5pm: Group discussion of case study findings

    If you would like to participate, please complete the form by July 7.

    Complete Interest Form
  • Top 6 Tips for the Expo Floor

    You’re headed to Chicago to participate in the premier food science and technology event where you’ll experience the latest developments in food and begin building your professional network. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip.

    6. Make a List – Before you arrive, decide which companies on the expo floor you want to visit. Heads up: The dress code is business casual (or better), so leave your flip-flops at the hotel.

    5. Time Your Entrance – The best time to talk with booth staff is when they’re free and not talking with buyers. Inside scoop: The best time to visit the food expo is between 2:00–4:00 p.m.

    4. Be Yourself – You’re your best champion. Introduce yourself confidently with a smile – and let them know you are a student.

    3. Have a Purpose – When you choose which booths you’re going to visit, identify your reason. Be sure to ask thoughtful questions about the company. Listen to what they have to say and be ready to respond.

    2. Manners Matter – Good manners always make a great impression. Before helping yourself to literature, samples, or giveaways, ask – but only if you really need them. And please only take one. Insider note: Doing a grab and dash or overstaying your welcome is not cool.

    1. Have a Great Time! – This is your opportunity to meet the people who are using food science every day to innovate and address important global problems like food safety and sufficiency. Take advantage of your time on the show floor!

  • Travel Scholarships

    The Feeding Tomorrow Fund provides scholarships for students to attend IFT FIRST. They've partnered with IFT Divisions, IFT Sections, and sponsors who have provided generous funding to support all students currently engaged in the science of food. Travel scholarships are now closed.

Justification Letters

Need to make your case to receive department funding to attend or to receive time off from your job or internship? Download our customizable justification letters to show faculty or supervisors the value of your IFT FIRST attendance!

Justification Letter for Department Funding       Justification Letter for Time Off