I completed my BS in Food Science three years ago and have been working in Quality Assurance for a food manufacturer. But I am realizing that I have a passion for innovation and want to get into product development. How can I switch over?

Many students who graduate with their BS degree in food science aren’t quite sure what to do with the degree. As a result, they chose a job offered due to location, money, or just because it sounds like a good opportunity. But as time goes on, they realize that either this was the best choice! Or “Oops, this isn’t exactly what I wanted”. It’s good that you learned this early in your career.  Many companies require a MS degree for a position in research and development, but not all. The first thing you should do is check if there is opportunity to move into product development with your current company. Talk to your boss, or human resources, and see if there is a possibility to do so. If you are doing a good job, they will probably want to keep you happy, so this would be an obvious choice for them. You could also try to learn from those in R&D what skills they think are necessary to be in research. Ask yourself what skills you might need to sharpen before you move forward. For example, are you a good project manager? Are you innovative? Do you work well cross functionally? Have your worked on the commercialization side of the business while you were in the quality role? Maybe you already have some of those skills, and you can promote them on your resume. You should also call all your friends who are in research and development and ask them about their companies, and if there are any openings that you can apply for. Ask them to promote you to their boss. People hire people who know people. If one of your friends can give you a good recommendation, this is a great door opener, and it will be easier to get an interview. 304

 

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