Placement in a pandemic?!

Pandemic, panoramic, panasonic, pakurumo, placenta, pancetta or even panacotta.

What’s your favourite word play on pandemic? My two faves are definitely pakurumo and placenta (one of my sisters came up with this and … I had no words then I still have no words now – for her). It’s been an interesting year and a half hasn’t it?

Hi Friends (and summer), how’s summer where you are? I hope more stable than this British one! I also hope you live in a country where air conditioning is the norm 🙃.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand for today – my placement year!

I’ve mentioned being on placement a couple times on here and over on instagram but not in much detail. Well, amongst all the craziness of the panasonic, I’ve been fully adulting! Working, earning, being sleep deprived and all the adult things.

I have been working as a R&D product developer at PepsiCo in the global snacks function. There’s not much I can share in detail because *whispers* confidentiality 🤭, so I thought I’d use this as a short reflection- this Is an online journal after all!

I study Food Science and Nutrition at uni if you didn’t know. When I say I live and breathe food, I mean it – even in education!

On placement, I got to do A LOT of fun development and innovation on many different products and projects. I had THE BEST TIME EVER. I worked on some of the best brands including Sensations (a fave), with majority of my work being on STAX.

I did a bit of everything really. From bench scale recipe development and prototyping to scaling up recipes, food safety and sanitation, marketing, productivity, cost optimisation and even got a bit of project management experience. I did some real nerdy food science too – looking at ingredient structure and how this affects the final product/ recipe design. I also did some process engineering – who would’ve thought?! I now write recipes in excel and in % 🙃

Can’t forget the seemingly boring every day office stuff. Emails, buying stuff, logistics – which I ended up loving! and so much more. Nothing feels better than an empty inbox at the end of the day!

So, what would a typical day be like at the office? I had 2 kinds of days. Kitchen days or line days. I spent a lot of my time in the development kitchen so most of my days were kitchen days. My first hour was usually spent answering emails and doing “laptop stuff”. It could be anything from buying a new ingredient, moving pallets to sharing info with my team.

On a kitchen day, I would plan what recipes I was going to test that day and head on to the kitchen in my full PPE to get all my ingredients and get to work! On a line day (when i had a trial), first action is to print off my plan, go on the line to make sure all the equipment was set and everyone helping run the line knew what was happening, what recipe we’re running and all the fun stuff.

I was that person that would eat lunch at my desk and watch netflix while doing so 🤷🏽‍♀️. After lunch, i’d head back to the kitchen or the line. Emails incoming and outgoing all day as well as Zoom calls of course. The final hour before i went home was usually spent doing more “laptop stuff”, usually reading a scientific paper, buying more ingredients or learning a new food technology!

ALSO, I ALMOST became a daily coffee drinker 🙃, is this what adulting does to you? I barely escaped the shackles of needing a daily caffeine hit…. barely.

I had the BEST TEAM ever (no bias 🤭). They really welcomed, supported and guided me. From explaining mass balance calculations to me once a week (i don’t love numbers), to helping with ingredient sourcing, they were always willing to help. Our team meetings were filled with endless jokes, merch and many MANY reality checks (thanks boss).

I’m glad I took this year out to work and see what life will be like post education. I am very happy to say that I am not dreading entering the work force and becoming a valued member of society (my brother says you become this once you start working 🙃, although I think job or no job, you are valued still x).

If you happen to be a student reading this and considering taking a placement year or not – I say do it! It was so worth it. Even with the limitations due to covid, I think I got the best experience I could have gotten.

I’m a bit (a lot) sad that it has ended and have been slowly losing my mind out of boredom.. Send help.

Catch you on the next post!


your fave product developer ✌🏾

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