Students networking around tables in seminar room

Our 2024 IFST Student LaunchPad event

28 February 2024

We are committed to supporting the food scientists of tomorrow through our initiatives and partnerships, encouraging bright and talented students to have a career in the food industry and supporting new professionals on their career journeys.

As part of this, a number of our employees facilitate IFST (Institute of Food Science and Technology) events and act as STEM ambassadors. For example, we have now been hosting IFST Student LaunchPad events for over a decade.

IFST Student LaunchPad events are an opportunity for University students to make an impression and build a network, whilst also receiving advice and valuable insights into possible career paths in all aspects of the food chain. With lots of speakers from various roles, career guidance from our recruitment/HR team and industry mentors, it provides a realisation moment for many University students.

Our most recent Student LaunchPad event took place on 23rd February 2024, and here we cover how the day went.

A recruiter’s perspective

Beth Cook, Campden BRI HR & Recruitment Partner did a talk on ‘Standing out from the crowd: A recruiter’s perspective’.

She shared advice on what makes a good application, interview techniques and linked in networking, alongside her ‘top tips’. Lifting the lid on the recruitment process and what a recruiter looks for from graduate applicants.

It’s always an exciting element of my role to be able to interact with enthusiastic future food scientists and share the brilliant graduate opportunities we have here at Campden BRI. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the last 3 Student LaunchPads, it’s always a great event.

- Beth Cook

Career development within the food and drink industry

Sarah Overy, Campden BRI Senior Product Technologist shared valuable insights from her journey through University, her industrial placement and her career with us to date.

Having graduated a few years ago with a degree in Nutrition & Food Science, it was nice to share my experience of starting a career in the food industry with current food science students. I shared some of the opportunities I’ve had in my career so far, key skills as a new graduate and tips for remaining time at university and interviews. The students asked lots of questions, including interview technique and how they gain work experience in the food industry.

– Sarah Overy

Mentor’s lunch

The ‘Mentor’s lunch’ is a key part of any IFST Student LaunchPad event, and our 2024 event was no different. Students enjoyed moving from table to table, each of which was hosted by a 'mentor' from different areas of the food sector. It proved again to be a really popular and beneficial activity – a great opportunity for students to network and receive mentorship from various players from across the food and drink industry.

Our other support for students, early careers and continuous professional development

We are a Cornerstone Employer, as part of The Careers & Enterprise Company’s scheme to bridge between employers and schools / colleges and make sure that all young people can find their best next step out of education and into the world of work. Similarly, we are part of both the Gloucester and Worcester Local Enterprise Partnerships, who we support in their activities to drive economic growth and create local jobs.

Our support for GCSE and A-level students include:

  • Chipping Campden business awards;
  • Local school science award sponsorship;
  • Visiting local schools to talk about food science;
    • Talks for A-level biology and chemistry students
    • Supporting with mock interviews for school students
  • Apprenticeships.

Our support for Undergraduate and Masters students include:

  • Placements;
    • e.g. we had 7 students in 2022 for their year in industry
    • On the job training and experience, and support with their university project
    • One of past placement students is now an Associate Director here!
  • Talks at Universities – careers talks, sharing about their roles as well as more in-depth technical and scientific subject matter.

Another big part of our support for University students is Ecotrophelia. It is a Dragons' Den style, Europe-wide annual competition that challenges undergraduate student teams to develop the best eco-innovative food products, which they then pitch to industry leaders. Since 2013, we have been jointly organising the UK competition with IFST. The UK competition is open to teams of students from UK universities and the winner goes forward to represent the UK at the European final, which we jointly sponsor alongside Nestlé. Over the last 10 years, over 500 students from 22 different UK universities have been involved. The competition has great retailer and manufacturer support – for example, the UK competition has been hosted at Tesco (2022) and Sainsburys (2023) head offices.

As well as supporting undergraduate students, we also support Degree Apprenticeships (for example for A-level leavers moving into technician roles with us), for which we pay the national living wage, alongside providing travel and accommodation expenses for university study blocks.

In terms of graduate opportunities, a key one is our graduate Scheme. Based across Chemistry, Microbiology and Food Science departments, the 2-year scheme includes rotation within their specialist department, as well as in the wider department (as well as exposure to the wider business and its support functions). This facilitates specialist knowledge as well as broad knowledge and experience that sets participants up well for permanent opportunities. In 2022, we recruited 5 graduates into the scheme out of universities from across the country.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) provide funding (through Innovate UK ) to connect graduates with businesses like ours (across various industries, both within and outside of food and drink), which gives graduates the opportunity to develop and showcase their skills by delivering the strategic innovation project. We are uniquely well placed to identify research opportunities that have applications in real world business challenges and we use this to provide this fantastic career opportunities to graduates through KTPs.

Our support for Postgraduate studies and PhD students include:

  • Sponsorship of various Masters and PhDs;
  • 4 internal PhD candidates at the time of writing;
  • The Food Consortium Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) – an industry led doctoral training programme through collaboration between industry and top UK universities (CTP currently has 19 students at the time of writing, alongside a cohort of approximately 60 industrial and academic supervisors);
  • Main sponsor for the IFTSA graduate research video competition.

We are very proud to be supporting the Institute of Food Technologists Students Association (IFTSA) Graduate Research Video Competition. Launched in 2016 and designed to showcase outstanding research at the graduate level. It provides opportunities for graduate students to share their research in a creative and engaging way and gain experience in scientific communication; the annual prize is a 10-day study tour to the UK and parts of Europe to meet fellow researchers, give presentations in different settings to different audiences and visit centres of scientific and research excellence. The ultimate aim being to encourage these talented scientists to work in the food industry.

From new professional to emerging leaders

We have many long-serving colleagues with a wealth of invaluable industry experience and expert knowledge, and junior colleagues / new professionals receive mentoring. We also have a Technical Academy (AAA: Aspire, Acquire, Achieve) of internal, online training tools developed to provide a broad understanding of food science and technology and food industry issues.

For emerging and established leaders, we have a Catalyst programme developed with an external partner to support and grow our managers.

As part of continuous professional development, the businesses pays for colleagues’ IFST membership across the varying levels of membership available (depending on the contribution to the industry). This is fitting considering the number of IFST initiatives that we support, such as the Student LaunchPad event, and gives members access to the insights, events and professional development tools provided by IFST.

How can we help you?

If you’d like to find out more about training, knowledge management and profession development support, contact our team to find out how we can help.

Contact an expert

What else is on?

Check out our upcoming seminars, conferences and events

Seminars and conferences

More on Training

Worker inserting temperature probe into food pouch whilst loading retort

Event: SafePlate 2024

This member-only event will be focused exclusively on the thermal processing sector. Hear about novel retorting technologies, new research, industry challeng...

Microbiology graphic with food, agar plates and bacteria growth

Hot topics in food microbiology seminar

Whether you are involved in the microbiological testing of food or oversee the hygiene and safety of food production, this popular annual conference will loo...

Business meeting with people discussing tactics and strategies with charts on paper

Highlights from the 8th Global Food Safety Training Survey – the industry can and should do much better

We summarise the 2024 key findings from this benchmark data training. The survey allows participant companies to compare themselves and share best practices....

Man presenting with flip chart in front of an audience

‘Hot topics’ top 5 – the key focus areas and industry challenges that our members are talking about

The hottest topics that were most discussed in our 2023 Member Interest Group (MIG) meetings, why these issues are ‘hot’, what the challenges are and how we ...

Woman viewing Learning Management System on laptop

New On Demand E-learning training launched

Campden BRI are excited to launch a new offering to the food and drink industry - Campden Learning. Campden Learning is a digital platform that delivers worl...

Baker smiling with croissants

Talking safety and quality Culture Excellence at Campden BRI’s 7th annual seminar

Now in its seventh year, Campden BRI in partnership with TSI, delivered the Safety and Quality Culture Excellence conference to an online audience on the 8 a...

Contact an expert