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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. IFT FIRST means Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology and it’s the place where the science of food and innovation community gather to solve the biggest food challenges, bolster the food system and foster connections to inspire future food innovation.

As future IFT leaders with 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.

Student Basics

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  • Scholarships

    Feeding Tomorrow, the Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists, is pleased to provide 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.

  • Top 10 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.

    10. 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.

    9. 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.

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

    7. 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. However…

    6. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome – Keep your conversations brief – unless the booth staff asks you questions about your research. Remember this is your chance to make many connections. 

    5. 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 is not cool.

    4. It’s OK to Ask – You’re interested in career opportunities, so it’s OK to ask about the company’s hiring practices and to whom to direct your résumé, but…

    3. Avoid the “Spray & Pray” – Randomly picking up business cards and blasting your résumé out to everyone is ineffective and generally a waste of time. Instead…

    2. Choose the Right Time & Place – Making new contacts at the food expo is a great start, but the best and most productive place to have job search conversations is after the event.

    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!

  • 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. We’ll walk you through the can’t miss events as well as introduce you to other student attendees. 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 meet new friends, and network with peers.

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

    • IFTSA Student Lounge 
      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
    • IFTSA & Feeding Tomorrow Student Celebration
    • IFTSA Closing Ceremony
    • IFTSA Networking Party

    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.

  • Student Food Innovators (SFI)

    The Student Food Innovators (SFI) program will provide students with an opportunity to network and collaborate with peers and professional mentors while also exploring IFT FIRST. Students will choose a case study representing six 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.

    Through this experience, students 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.