For Clare Sollars, a background in agriculture was the driving force behind her goal to improve the production, processing, packaging and transportation of the world’s food supply. Clare, a third-year majoring in food, agricultural and biological engineering with a specialization in food engineering, learned the ropes of the packaging industry as a part of her internship at Abbott Nutrition, a global healthcare manufacturer.
Clare first discovered her future internship while attending a career fair hosted by the College of Engineering. After discussing the internship with a company representative, Clare knew that the position was the right fit for her. She applied for the position, but initially didn’t receive an offer. However, the company urged her to contact them in the future.
“The conversation with Abbott seemed promising so I signed up for a packaging class,” Clare said. “In the middle of January, I reached out again and was offered the position. They appreciated that I had taken an interest in packaging by enrolling in the course”.
Based in the company’s packaging engineering department in Columbus, Ohio, Clare worked with launching and adjusting product designs to ensure that the company’s packaging commodities were user-friendly and cost effective.
“I had the opportunity to work with other key functions including purchasing, quality, labeling, procurement, product developers, brand managers, plant equipment and processing engineers, along with the professionals who make up the many different packaging suppliers Abbott utilizes,” she said.
One of Clare’s proudest moments was working as the lead packaging engineer for Abbott’s launch of a new Pedialyte bottle.
“Tackling projects such as this is the primary responsibility of engineers in my department,” Clare said. “However, we still encountered problems along the way. Being able to deal with these issues and communicate with the team helped make me an integral member.”
As a part of her internship, Clare also met with other employees to learn more about their careers and specialties, giving her a broad view of the industry’s scope. Sollars plans to continue working with Abbott Nutrition this summer and hopes to pursue a career in the industry.
“With this internship, I was given real responsibility and had the opportunity to travel to numerous locations around the United States,” Clare said. “My knowledge of packaging going into this internship was limited, and now, I am considering it as a possible career.”
While Clare initially wasn’t offered this opportunity, her combined experience of attending university-hosted events and acquiring feedback helped her achieve her goal. She encourages students to attend career fairs and collect feedback, regardless of the outcome.
“I would advise students to talk to the companies they are interested in at career fairs and reach out after interviews,” she said. “I have gotten several rejections, but the feedback I have asked for afterwards has always been helpful. When I have asked for feedback after a rejection, more than once, I have gotten an offer at a later date.”
To learn more about where other FABE students have completed internships, click here.
by Kiersten Wright