July 30, 2020, by Ruth Musson

Working with Chocolate – Food Science and Nutrition Degree Student Abbie Pugh’s recent placement

How did you arrange your placement?

The Biosciences placements team send out weekly updates containing the latest advertised placements.  These were very easy to read and during my second year  became my main resource for available placements.  The team reviewed my CV several times prior to my applying to companies, assisting in showcasing my skills. Dr Judith Wayte, Placement manager in the School of Biosciences,  also facilitated a practise interview, which built my confidence in preparation for interviews.

 What did you do? 

I was part of a team experimenting with ingredients and methods producing future fillings for chocolate products. The main ingredients are fat and sugar, and I was tasked with reducing the amounts used to improve the nutrition of the filled chocolates. My aim was to produce a stable healthier product that was  still appealing  to consumers.   On a typical day, I prepared recipes in the office, then experimented with them in the lab.  I would produce various filling prototypes, altering the method parameters and ingredients. 



What did you learn?

The fillings were based on emulsions giving me a wealth of technical knowledge about how  emulsions behaved.   Also practical skills including producing prototypes, quality checking, and analytical kills. I was trained to use a microscope to observe my samples, instead of someone from the microscopy lab, who may not provide the interpretation we were looking for. Other experiences from my placement included food safety with HACCP, microorganisms that could be present in ingredients, and operating in a professional workplace surrounded by expert scientists in food and pharmaceutical fields.

How did lock down affect your placement? 

My lab was closed until further notice and staff were advised to work from home.It was a scary time as much of my work was lab-based, and I wondered if I would be furloughed. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to complete my placement with my intern housemates, and even return to work in my lab with social distancing and extra PPE in place.

What are your next steps, plans for the future? 

Firstly, I will return to Nottingham to undertake my final year studying Nutrition & Food Science in September and utilise the Biosciences team to assist in applying for graduate positions. I am unsure of the exact food industry role I would like to begin my career with; however, my placement has shown me the world of ingredients research and the technologies that help create our favourite snacks. Therefore, I will consider research as a career opportunity, alongside my original dream of New Product Development.

How has this opportunity helped you

Other than showcasing food industry roles, it has provided me with several professional contacts.  I met a diverse range of people and developed a network of internationally based contacts. I hope this will assist in developing my career in the industry. Furthermore, I have improved many skills including time management, organisation, presentation skills, and communication. My CV will showcase these skills for future employers. 

For information on how you can benefit from working with industry as part of your degree see University of Nottingham  placements or internships

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