The Value of Internships

By: Emily Wolter

If you are preparing to graduate soon, leave the world of academia, and enter the work force…Best of luck! It can be an uneasy time, as you begin to consider which jobs you are eligible for that also suit your interests. Many require some degree of experience even though you may have just walked across the stage yesterday. This is where internships come in handy. And if you have done one before, you are currently shaking your head up and down!

I started an internship at a mid-sized food production plant that specializes in food service products during my junior year of college and continued there until I graduated, almost 2 years later. I worked in the microbiology lab for over a year, but was cross trained in many different areas of the plant, including quality assurance, working on the floor, and ultimately spending 5 months in the R&D kitchens before departing. Internships provide the missing piece of the puzzle that enables you to more easily transition from academia to industry and they offer invaluable experiences. One of the most important things that my internship enabled me to discover is where I truly want to work when I graduate: Research and Development. However, if I had not taken on that internship, I would not be so sure.

Internships are certainly not a requirement, but if you are wondering whether or not you should do one and you still have time to fit one in before graduation, do not think twice!

Be sure to check out the IFT Career Center during your search! If any employers are reading this, remember that you can post internships at the IFT Career Center for FREE.

Have you done an internship? What was the best experience or piece of knowledge that you left your internship with?

Science Meets Food

The IFT Student Association (IFTSA) is a forward-looking, student-governed community of IFT members. Through competitions, scholarships, networking, and leadership opportunities, you’ll set yourself apart from your classmates (unless they’re members too).


  1. I agree Emily. Even though it meant that I graduated a bit later than I could have, my internships have been the single most helpful tool in helping me to determine what type of career I want in the food industry. They gave me a chance to practice what I thought I wanted to do and to see other professionals in action on a day-to-day basis. They also helped me to decide that sensory science was a field I was interested in (not something that I had really considered before). I would suggest at least one internship for anyone in a food science program!

  2. I’ve never done an internship but I have seen a lot of people get their foot in the door and then get hired later by the company. It’s a great way to get started.