One co-op position can change the trajectory of your life.
That’s exactly what happened to Morgan Genge while completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo.
During high school, Genge didn’t know what she wanted to do in a life-long career. Engineering sounded exciting, but if she decided to pursue this degree, it would be an intensive course load. She decided against this idea because she felt this would be a difficult path without a clear idea of what she wanted to do after graduation.
But one thing Genge was sure of was she wanted to go to a university with a co-op program.
“What really attracted me to Waterloo was the co-op program,” said Genge, in a previous episode of the FoodGrads podcast. “Once I got into the [University of] Waterloo, I decided to switch into biology because it gave me a bit more flexibility.”
Like many new undergraduates, Morgan didn’t have a rich working background. Her only job experience was working at her local hockey rink, where she fried up french fries for patrons. This made it difficult for her to find a job, given there were more students than jobs available.
Exploring food and beverage processing through co-op positions
Genge didn’t give up, and that’s when Conestoga Meat Packers, a farmer-owned premium fresh pork processor, hired her as a Quality and Research Technician at the company for her first co-op term. Although the experience was an eye-opener for her, she found she quite enjoyed it.
“It really opened my eyes to how much work goes into bringing food into all our lives,” said Genge. “It’s not just a pork chop that just shows up on the shelf. There’s a whole process and a lot of people and quality controls [are put in place].”
Genge went from not knowing what she wanted to do after she graduated to continuing to explore the food and beverage processing industry.
For her next two co-op positions, she went on to try product development at both Maple Leaf Foods and Canada Bread. Her love for the industry only grew, and today she is the Innovation Project Manager at Arterra Wines, Canada’s leading producer and marketer of globally recognized Canadian and imported wines.
Advice for students? Find a co-op position!
Genge gave some advice to students who are unsure what they want to do when they graduate.
“I think one thing that I did do that I really do believe helped me get where I am today… was a co-op,” she said. “Anyone who’s in co-op, I know it’s tough. It was tough for me, and I’m sure it’s even tougher now. But stick with it and be open-minded to try something new, because it’s one of the few times in your life where you have the opportunity to do [that].”
Today Morgan Genge continues to love what she does and is excited to be in her full-time role as a Product Manager.
As a Product Manager, she is responsible for helping to launch new products from start to finish. She anticipates problems that could potentially occur downstream and makes plans to avoid them.
Want to learn more about Morgan’s story and the approach she takes to problem solve in processing facilities? Then check out the full story on episode 34 of the FoodGrads Podcast! Listen to the full episode below or wherever you get your podcasts!
The FoodGrads Podcast has over 50 episodes where host Veronica Hislop interviews insights from professionals at all stages in their careers.
From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to the Plant, QA Technicians to Dietitians, R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion–there’s something for everyone in food.
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