First steps in the Food Industry

14/08/2015 15:24:15

Campden BRI provides legislative, technical and scientific support and research to the food and drinks industry worldwide. The emerging 'skills shortage' facing the sector was one of the major areas of need identified during Campden BRI's recent major consultation on the needs of industry.

James Huscroft Campden BRI is actively supporting industry to both encourage and attract newly qualified scientists, technologists and managers into the industry by offering undergraduate student placements and PhD studentships, introducing the Ecotrophelia competition to the UK, and supporting activities such as the student LaunchPad and Feeding Britain's Future.

James Huscroft is currently studying for a BSc (Hons) Food Science at the University of Nottingham. For the last 12 months he has been working at Campden BRI as a Process Validation Technician Placement Student. His work experience has covered a variety of areas with one common theme – thermal processing.

James' work varies day-to-day, from working with clients to ensure that their processes meet requirements to developing processes, to monitoring microbiological stability during a product's shelf life. He writes a blog for the Institute of Food Science and Technology and recently presented at the Appetite for Engineering workshop at the University of Nottingham’s Food Science Summer School to encourage GCSE students to pursue a career in Food Engineering.

What attracted you to a Food Science Degree?

I’ve always been fascinated with food! As my Dad has worked in the industry for around 30 years, you could say that it runs in the family. Science was my strong point at school and I quickly realised that I wanted to work in the food industry. The Food Science degree at the University of Nottingham was perfect for me. From food chemistry, processing, manufacturing to nutrition and microbiology - the course offered me everything I need to pursue a career in the food industry.

Why did you choose to spend your placement year at Campden BRI?

A student at the University of Nottingham told me great things about her placement at Campden BRI so I researched the company and felt that it was a fantastic opportunity to learn from experts.

What were your initial thoughts about Campden BRI?

When I first started at Campden BRI I was extremely nervous, however as soon as I walked through the door I was met with smiles and friendly faces which put me at ease. My manager showed me around the site and introduced me to my team and the rest of the department. Everyone was so welcoming! Having spent a year working with a wide range of people, I can honestly say that it’s a pleasure to work at Campden BRI. The atmosphere is fantastic and everyone is willing to help whenever you need it.

What did a typical day at Campden BRI involve?

Anyone who has worked at Campden BRI will tell you a typical day is never the same. I could be calibrating equipment, carrying out contract work on-site in Chipping Campden or off-site at factories, analysing data, writing reports, presenting to Member Interest Groups, representing Campden BRI at certain events or answering client enquiries. The variety of work and number of opportunities to learn are what makes Campden BRI such a great place to work.

What has been the highlight of your placement year?

My placement year has been too good to narrow it down to just one highlight. All the opportunities that I have been given have enabled me to progress, grow and delve deeper into the world of food science.

What has been the greatest challenge you have faced?

The greatest challenge I have faced whilst on my placement has been dealing with the pressure associated with process development or validation trials at clients’ factories. This was sometimes very difficult. While I would do my best to go above and beyond to accomplish the deliverables, it was vitally important to keep to the schedule as accurately as possible to minimise the impact on the client’s production.

What have been your greatest achievements?

My greatest achievement was seeing my name published on a Research & Development report for a project on which I had been involved in the practical work, data analysis and report writing. I was also very proud to be elected IFST’s Member of the Month in recognition of the blogs I wrote for the IFST website about my placement year at Campden BRI.

In what way has your placement year surprised you the most?

My placement has been filled with many surprises, but the biggest surprise was the level of responsibility that I was given by my manager and my team early on. This has allowed me to grow and experience hands-on learning.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you pass on to Campden BRI’s future placement students?

The advice from me couldn’t be simpler: take every opportunity that comes your way. Be keen, eager and always seize opportunities to develop. If you happen to be having a quiet day or week, use that go-getter attitude and ask for work because it will make your placement experience even more rewarding.

What are your plans for the future?

Following my placement year at Campden BRI, I will be returning to the University of Nottingham to complete the final year of my BSc (Hons) Food Science degree. Once I have graduated I hope to study for a PhD with my University and then pursue a career in the food industry.

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