Student Stories: Education, internships readied her for awesome career

December 10, 2010

University, Park, Pa. — Growing up in the little town of Summerdale, Pa., near Harrisburg, Brianna Hrusko never suspected that she would land a job most would envy, or that her job would take her around the world.

It was not until an older coworker at a high school job heard Hrusko enjoyed cooking and science and recommended she look into food science that she gave the notion a thought. The advice culminated in her enrollment in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Hrusko spent her freshman and sophomore years at Penn State Berks in Reading, Pa., before moving on to University Park, where she finished her degree. During fall semester of her sophomore year, Hrusko participated in an internship with Parkside Beverage in Leesport, Pa. She had met the company's owner earlier through Penn State's mentor program, which pairs local alumni from food-science professions with freshman students.

"Penn State is recognized everywhere," she said. "Having that behind you is pretty powerful."

The University offers food science students many opportunities. Penn State's Food Science Club regularly invites representatives from large companies to address students. During her time at Penn State, Hrusko remembers meeting professionals from Heinz, Hershey, Kraft and many more employers.

This is how she snagged a seven-month co-op in Whippany, N.J., with well-known Cadbury Schweppes. She gained valuable experience working on product development for the Halls cough-drop brand. Later, she interned with Stauffer Biscuit Co. in York, Pa., the summer before her senior year.

The co-op and internships paid off when she began looking for a career. "Penn State offers you the connections to so many companies," she said.

After graduating with a degree in food science in fall 2008, Hrusko was offered a position at Cadbury. "It would have been a great opportunity to work for a company I already knew and had grown to love through an internship," she said.

But within days, a recruiter from a Fortune 500 company -- Unilever -- gave her a call, and, after another interview, she got an even better job offer. She took it and has not looked back.

Now, she is employed in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., working for the ice cream category in Unilever's research and development department, which includes well-known brand names, such as Breyers, Klondike, Good Humor, and Ben and Jerry's. However, Hrusko concentrates on kids' novelties, particularly popsicles, fudgesicles and creamsicles.

And her education continues. Last year, she traveled to England and Italy to attend monthlong training courses in Unilever ice cream knowledge. "I was fortunate to attend a university with such a strong dairy department and Food Science program," she said. "Anything involving milk, cheese, ice cream or chocolate is Penn State's strength."

  • Brianna Hrusko at the Louvre in Paris.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 21, 2011