Kansas State University


Food Science Institute

Food Science Alum Returns to Interview Students


By Morgan Wolfe



Returning to her old stomping grounds, Rachel Pearson, a 2015 K-State graduate traveled back to Manhattan last week in hunt to find the best-fitting students for the posterity of her represented company, Land O’ Lakes.

Rachel began her college career in the pre-veterinary program. It wasn’t until she took Dr. Phebus’ Introduction to Food Science class that she noticed a shift in her attention. “I found food science to be a very engaging subject for me,” said Rachel.

“Dr. Phebus’ intro class definitely peaked my interest in food science for sure. I had a follow-up meeting with him shortly after and realized his passion for food science. He quickly revealed the impact and opportunities that food science has,

so I started weighing the factors, advantages and disadvantages.  Then I decided that I would have a lot more going for me if I switched over to food science.”

Rachel has been working for Land O’ Lakes for about three years. She first worked for the company during her junior year where they shipped her off to Orland, California for a summer internship.

“I remember one of the first things they asked me during my initial interview was, ‘Are you willing to relocate,'” Rachel mentioned. “And I said, ‘I want to get out of Kansas. I want to see what the world has to offer.” She enjoyed her internship so much that the following summer she accepted another intern position with Land O’ Lakes; this time in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Rachel now works at the Minnesota Land O’ Lakes branch where she just started her second year in a program called TAP (training).

“It’s a broad training course where you get exposure to the plant. It includes anything from sourcing to environmental health and safety to quality as well as production,” Rachel explained. “You learn how each part of the process plays a role in making the final product.”

Rachel started her first year of the program down in Texas doing feed. Although she loved it, she realized she loved dairy more. She is currently back in R&D butter and spreads team in Minnesota until she finishes training and is relocated to another plant.

“At Land O’ Lakes, you really make your own career,” Rachel stated. “Land O’ Lakes is very supportive if you have an interest. Go for it. That’s why I enjoy coming back to K-State to interview students.

I love talking about Land O’ Lakes and the opportunities within the company and how it plays a part in making the world a better place.”

Rachel interviewed food science students here in Manhattan for two days. She and her colleague, Daniel Coen (KSU Food Science Alumni), really wanted to find those special students whom they know would do well at Land O’ Lakes.

“We want students to feel comfortable during the interview process. It’s more of a get-to-know you process on both sides,” Rachel noted.

“We are looking for someone who has those true values, takes integrity very seriously and is not afraid to get their hands dirty and get the job done. At the same time, we also look for people who really value the impact that Land O’ Lakes has in the world and people who are passionate about making a difference.”



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