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Susan Parker

If you like animals, animal feed companies have opportunities for students to do internships to get an idea if the industry is interesting. If you groove on it, a lot of times, you might get an opportunity to work at the place you did your internship at.

Hill's Pet Science Nutrition (a division of Colgate-Palmolive, yes the toothpaste and soap people)
http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/Corp/WorkWithUs/StudentOpportunities/HomePage.cvsp

Nestle Purina (a division of the same company that makes Nestle chocolate and Lean Cuisine!)
https://www.nestlepurinacareers.com/career-opportunities/internships/default.aspx

Delmonte Foods
https://www.delmontefoods.com/careers/default.aspx?page=ca_summerintern

Kraft Foods, Nestle Foods, Unilever, ConAgra, etc have internship programs. Human and animal foods are very similar from a product design perspective. Actual, pet foods have a lot of regulations that they must meet.

While pet foods can be interesting, designing them, there are sensory science folks who work to find out which foods the animals prefer. Pretty much every food product at the grocery store goes through a sensory panel before going into the marketplace. The cool thing is that the pet food industry has a similar thing. If a dog won't eat a particular pet food, the owner won't buy it anymore. There are scientists who run sensory tests.

Food is a very polarizing topic these days. Many companies (especially larger companies) often try to have options for folks looking for "cleaner", less processed foods. Kraft has Back to Nature. Kellog has Kashi. Amy's Kitchen also hires interns.

If you find that the sensory piece is really neat, there are organizations like the Monell Center in Philadelphia that study sensory input and how it interacts with the brain. It's a multi-disciplinary approach. They have a program for undergrads - it's about half way down the page at this link:
http://www.monell.org/education_training

Biology is such a good area of study as you can go a bunch of ways. It doesn't have to be vet school either. If working with people is ok, then physical therapy is an option.

You note that the natural world fascinates you. Antarctica poses some interesting questions too. There are intership programs to "try out" that kind of work:
http://www.iai.utas.edu.au/

Neuroscience is a wide open area of study. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin does a lot of work in this area. If you're at a school that has a neuroscience program, I'd start by taking an intro class and meeting the professor. Find out if there are opportunities for undergrad projects. Professors are looking for help in their labs. Neat opportunities.

It's overwhelming to see what options there are. I know I never heard of flavor chemistry when i got my degree in chemistry. I fell into this area and I'm glad I did.

Thinking about what you dig or groove on can help you try stuff out. Internships are handy.

Keep posting questions! Lots of options out there.

Answered 2 years ago

Susan Parker