Carolyn Saxton Human Nutritional Sciences Alumni
Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?
I am a quality control manager at McCain Foods in Othello, WA. I oversee the overall microbiological, food safety and product quality of over 180 different frozen potato products and approximately 450 million pounds of product per year, including major product brands such as McDonalds, KFC and Burger King. I manage a staff of 36 individuals and operate a yearly budge t exceeding $550,000.
One of the most rewarding parts of my jobs is the knowledge that millions of consumers are enjoying safe food products every day. One of the greatest challenges in my position is continually dealing with the unknown. For example, potato processing involves the handling of live raw material every day and each day encompasses a new challenge. Another challenge is understanding the product needs and requirements of a wide variety of customers. We sell products to 40 different countries throughout the world and each country has different cultures and expectations. My goal as a quality control manager is satisfying the quality and food safety expectations of each and every customer we supply.
What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?
I met with academic advisors who helped me to get a better understanding of the different options within the human nutritional sciences degree and what type of positions are available through each stream.
As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed?
No, I did not. I started down the path of human nutritional sciences expecting to graduate and become a dietitian. Once I realized that the positions in dietetics were somewhat limited, I started exploring the foods side of the degree as opposed to nutrition. After sitting down with an academic advisor and getting a better understanding of the degree options and range of career options, I switched my major over from nutrition to foods.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in human nutritional sciences?
Understand what careers and different opportunities are available to you after you graduate. Don’t wait until you have completed your degree to understand what you can do with your degree. Apply for summer positions at the employers of your choice. In my experience, many employers do not advertise summer positions, internships, and/or co-op programs, but if you reach out to them directly and express your desire to be a permanent part of their team, many are willing to give you opportunities.
What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?
Be open to possibilities. More often than not, the job you end up in isn’t necessarily the position that you had in mind upon graduating. If you are open to different possibilities you may find yourself going down a career path that you never expected, like making French fries!
Tell us a fun fact about your career path.
For a field trip in one of my courses we went to the Food Development Center (FDC) in Portage La Prairie. While walking into the FDC, I looked over at the McCain manufacturing facility which is directly across the street and thought to myself ‘maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a job there one day’. As luck would have it, I started my first job at the McCain facility in Carberry, Manitoba and two years later was promoted to the quality manager position.