Good things come from small packaging circles

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A. Sue Weisler

Jennifer Farrin ’06 (packaging science)attended her first packaging science career fair as a recruiter for Burt’s Bees this year.

In one corner, Danielle Fisher Nowicki ’08 (packaging science) shows off the latest packaging technology at Heinz.

A few feet away, John Albers ’10 (packaging science) explains the thinking behind the packaging of Kraft’s Sizzling Salads dinner kits.

Across the room, Jennifer Farrin ’06 (packaging science) talks about the importance of sustainability at Burt’s Bees.

Welcome to the packaging science career fair, which, along with providing current students an opportunity to interview for co-ops and full-time positions, allows graduates now working at companies across the country to reconnect and show off their work.

More than half of the recruiters at this year’s fair were alumni, says Shauna Newcomb, program coordinator for the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services. Of the 28 companies at the two-day event, 22 had alumni representatives.

Nowicki, who works for Heinz in Pittsburgh, waited until the end of her third year to try packaging science after she realized mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and business weren’t for her. She got the six-month co-op at Heinz with only basic classes under her belt.

“The biggest thing I learned was that I was ready to be done with school,” says Nowicki, who enrolled in classes at a Pittsburgh community college while on co-op so she could expedite her graduation date. “I was ready to be a real person in the working world.”

When she finally was able to enter the working world a few months later, she got back in touch with Heinz and ended up working for the same manager. She now works on the Heinz gravy line.

Albers also returned to work full-time at a company where he had done a co-op. He lined up his job at Kraft Foods in Chicago before commencement. He also did a co-op at Colgate-Palmolive.

“The RIT co-op program is great,” says Albers, who designed the Sizzling Salad packages that came out in January. “You aren’t getting coffee for people. You are actually working on projects.”

Farrin worked on co-op at Polaroid, Wyatt Pharmaceuticals and then at Hasbro Toys after she graduated. The Hasbro job turned into a full-time position.

In 2008, she moved to North Carolina and was able to get a job with Burt’s Bees, in part because of her RIT connections in packaging. The move has been a good fit because she and the company share a passion for sustainability.

This career fair was the first for the company, and an RIT student will begin a co-op this winter.

“I think it helped that Burt’s Bees saw my skill sets, so they felt good about coming to RIT,” Farrin says.