Macphie is committed to people development and each year we invite university students to apply for a range of work placements alongside our teams. One of our latest students is Clara O’Connor who has just finished her time with us before returning to complete her final year at university.
As this year’s students start thinking about their plans for the year, we asked Clara a few questions about her experience at Macphie
What are you studying and where?
I’m currently studying Food Science at University College Cork (UCC). It’s a four-year course and during Year three students must complete a six-month work placement.
What attracted you to apply for a placement with Macphie?
UCC and Macphie have worked closely for a number of years, with quite a number of students coming here over the years. Even before going into 3rd Year I had my eye on Macphie as I had heard a lot of good things from students who had worked here previously, as well as academics involved with the placement programme.
I was drawn to the fact that Macphie has such an extensive product portfolio. Obviously, being the UK’s leading, independent, added-value food ingredients manufacturer helped as well!
What have you been working on at Macphie?
My main project focus has been salt/sodium reduction – ensuring that all Macphie branded products comply with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) 2017 salt targets. The project, to gradually reduce salt/sodium in products which fall within the 76 categories set by the FSA, has been ongoing for a number of years..
Initially I worked to identify any products which hadn’t yet been reformulated, then progressed each product through the development process. This involved rigorous product testing and working closely with the Applications, Quality, Marketing and Production teams to ensure that we maintained the high quality and standards expected from Macphie.
What have you learnt during your time at Macphie?
This placement has been more beneficial than I could’ve imagined. I did have high expectations but even they’ve been exceeded.
I’m so grateful to R&D Technologist Zoe Smart for being a truly amazing mentor. She showed me the ropes and guided wherever I needed help but more importantly, she gave me the freedom to make my own decisions and manage my own projects.
It was great to get exposure to how different departments work together and I was able to attend a number of supplier meetings, customer visits, presentations and training sessions. The experience I’ve gained during my time at Macphie will definitely stand me in good stead in years to come.
Would you recommend a work placement with Macphie to other students and if so, why?
Most definitely! Macphie isn’t just a company but a family and that makes for a great environment to work in. Being part of R&D meant that I was closely involved with all of the other departments and that allowed me to further develop my interpersonal skills, as well as using the knowledge acquired from university. This is what every placement should look like.