Student Stories: Food Science major has impressive internship

From attending interesting meetings to writing company newsletters to approving product sales, Paige Smoyer found that working as a food safety intern was a fast-paced and intriguing experience.

During the summer of 2014, she worked in Washington, D.C., with Food Directions LLC, a government relations consulting firm. The McLean, Virginia, native was able to commute to the full-time, paid internship.

Smoyer, who graduated in May with a degree in Food Science from the College of Agricultural Sciences, was required to attend meetings with government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, and even attended Senate Agriculture Committee hearings. The goal of the firm is to inform trade associations and food companies of new and changing policies.

She worked on a project with a seafood company from Canada that was looking to sell products in the United States. Her role was to review the product ingredients and labels to ensure that they meet rules and regulations.

Smoyer also sat in on a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing for child nutrition, which covered topics such as school lunches and requirements for the nutritional value of food available to students.

Smoyer enjoyed the networking. She was able to meet clients and experience real-world environments outside of classroom laboratories. She appreciated being introduced to a more practical discipline inside the food science industry.

"This internship really opened my eyes to a part of the profession I was previously unfamiliar with," Smoyer said. "I liked getting away from the lab work and experiencing the fast-paced environment of government relations."=

Smoyer enjoyed the internship because of the intensity and importance of the work she performed. While some internships require only superficial tasks of the interns, she felt that she played a vital role.

She advises ag students to try to get as much experience as possible and to reach out to companies on their own. She was able to secure this internship -- which helped her focus on her career -- as a result of individual research into food companies in Washington, D.C.

Last Updated July 02, 2015