“The student body at the University of Illinois sets itself apart from other academic institutions,” says food science and human nutrition graduate Amanda Pizarek. “There is a place for anyone with any interests to fit in. Even in the courses fulfilling my general education requirements, I felt a real curiosity among the students that made most learning experiences richer.”
For food science specifically, the small and individualized program really gave Amanda an opportunity to explore facets within the field. As a result, Amanda found an internship with PepsiCo, the company she now works for.
“I get to work on every single brand PepsiCo owns, from Quaker Oats to Mountain Dew to Gatorade,” Amanda says. “I also get to use my food science knowledge to guide product developers in the development process while providing feedback straight from consumers.”
Amanda bridges between marketing and product development. Her role is focused on front-end product research, guiding developers and project teams to design products based on consumer expectations.
U of I left her with many rewarding experiences and an abundance of knowledge to take forward to her career. Not to mention, she met her husband here, too.
“Academically, I enjoyed the professors, who were always there to challenge us but also to provide opportunities for growth, whether it was research or help with the job search,” Amanda says. “Personally, I met my husband during my time at U of I, so my alma mater provided me one of the most important things in my life.”