Combining Food Science and co-op: a recipe for success

Charita smilingCharita Goyal, a fourth-year Life Science student minoring in Fine Arts and specializing in Animal Biology, says co-op has allowed her to be open-minded. 

Charita worked at Maple Leaf Foods as a Food Technologist. At that time, she was in the plant alternative protein department where she was part of creating a formula for KFC and A&W. During her time there, they came up with the plant-based nuggets. “They told us the batch of co-op students that came in were lucky because it usually takes about eight months to a year for the formulation, production and release, but we saw it within four months,” says Charita.

Charita then worked remotely for the University of Hawaii for her second term. During her time there, she worked alongside a professor and another co-op student. One of Charita’s responsibilities was to develop the professor’s research in journals artistically. “There were certain things that you weren't able to say in words," says Charita. "This was nice because I was able to learn about software drawing. I usually do the traditional pen and pencil kind of thing. Like, paint on a canvas. I've never done art on a laptop or on a tablet.” Charita also had the opportunity to have her work published, which was really big for her! 

Charita then worked at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health during her third co-op term as an Office Clerk. She worked closely with the vaccination clinics and she mentions how it was really fast-paced right from the beginning! “The Ministry of Ontario is changing [...] with COVID. Every single day we're changing and upgrading everything that needs to be done," says Charita. "We went from our clinics having errors, to patients and clients noticing we were much organized and had an overall smoother process.” 

Charita sitting on a rock at a beach

Charita smiling by the beach

What has been the most challenging thing about co-op? 

“For my first co-op term, I actually skipped it because I had the mindset of wanting to go into healthcare. I was looking for a job at a hospital but there are only so many jobs at hospitals. I wasn't really open to other jobs. I skipped my first term, and then I just took a study term instead. I didn't know food science was even a thing until I got my job at Maple Leaf Foods which led me to be very open-minded.” 

What did you enjoy about Maple Leaf Foods culture? 

“It's a really big company but the team that we worked with was so tight that you actually interact with your VP, which not a lot of people can say. Being able to talk to your manager or your higher-ups, and them giving feedback on the product or formula right in front of you was really valuable as well. It was kind of like a family. Everybody has lunch together and their workplace was very considerate of other people. They were also there for support, which was nice.”