Student Stories: Food Science grad learns how good cookie crumbles at Stauffer's

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As happens with many Penn State students, an internship led to a good job for John-Claude Lacroix.

The recent Food Science graduate was hired by Stauffer's — maker of cookies and crackers — after he interned with the York, Pennsylvania, company during his sophomore and junior years.

"I was interested in Stauffer's based on my past internships — it was a hands-on job opportunity that allowed me to gain a ton of experience in my career as a food scientist," he said.

A native of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, Lacroix attended career fairs as an undergraduate student but landed the internship through connections made with neighbors in his hometown.

"I got my first internship through my neighbor, who was the director of quality at Stauffer's. It got my foot in the door and gave me a chance to network with people in the company," he said. "That networking allowed me to move to product development, where I currently work."

The majority of Lacroix's work focuses on benchtop research and development in which he and other employees collaborate and come up with new ideas and samples. He also conducts plant trials, maintains databases for things such as raw materials, conducts sensory tests, sources ingredients for secondary suppliers, and performs shelf-life testing.

An exciting development for Lacroix is the creation of three new cookie varieties. He described the process as playing around with ingredients and creating samples to get approved by consumer research.

"Once our colleagues in sales and marketing give us the flavor, texture and cost they are looking for, we source the necessary ingredients and start product development," he said. "After the product is approved, the real process begins by setting up line trials, meetings, packaging and nutritionals/ingredient statements to get the product on the shelf."

Lacroix said his favorite part of the job is the ability to be creative.

"I have a unique job that allows me to come to work every day happy," he said. "I love the idea of creating a new product that one day can be on the shelf and enjoyed by consumers regularly."

Lacroix said his major and experiences in the College of Agricultural Sciences gave him a great starting point for his success as a food scientist.

"Penn State gave me the keys to the car that can take me anywhere in my career with constant hard work and the will to succeed. From the great teachers and staff to the friends I gained through classes, the University helped give me the necessary tools to get my career headed in the right direction."

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Last Updated January 18, 2016