I had no idea how big the food safety industry was until my student internship took me to the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.
Walking into the conference space of over 3,000 food safety leaders with the 3M team by my side felt surreal. It was overwhelming – in the best of ways. Here’s why.
Why this event was one of the best internship experiences that I could ask for?
The IAFP Annual Meeting was my first conference, ever. It was also my first time in the US. My mom was so proud of me for getting to travel for my co-op program to the US.
The best part though? It was that 3M never made me feel like a student. I really felt like a part of a team. I got to participate in customer events and meet product inventors, like the 3M scientist who invented the 3M™ Petrifilm™ Lactic Acid Bacteria Count Plate.
I also got to ask questions about the technology I work with daily – 3M™ Petrifilm™ Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plate – directly to the person that invented it. How cool is that!?
Everyone at 3M was so generous with their time. It was also motivating for me to see how enthusiastic the 3M scientists were about the work they’ve done to help advance food safety testing. Seeing their passion only makes me more excited for my own STEM career.
Why was attending this conference as a student intern important to my future career?
The opportunity to meet and get career advice from the 3M Canada food safety leaders and the 3M Global food safety team has put me on the right trajectory for my food safety job. I believe having that guidance and support so early on in my STEM career will help give me a leg up.
The conference itself also opened my eyes to the diverse career opportunities in food safety. I learned that a food safety career can take me around the world. Being able to see how much I can do in food safety was inspiring.
What happened at the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting?
The four-day conference featured science-based presentations, committee and professional development group meetings, educational exhibits, and an awards banquet. It covered a variety of food safety industry trends like:
- information on current and emerging food safety issues
- latest science advancements in the food safety industry
- innovative solutions to new and recurring problems
Everyone from educators, government officials, microbiologists, food industry executives, and quality control professionals were at the IAFP Annual Meeting – I got to network with some of the biggest heavyweights in the food safety industry. I still can’t believe it. Some people wait years into their career for an opportunity like this.
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