You have now developed a product from start to finish. This is an accomplishment to celebrate. It is also a point to stop and reflect on what you have learned. Think back to where you started at the beginning of the semester. Likely ideation and deciding on your product concept feels like a long time ago. Formulation was exciting and likely nerve-racking as your team figured out how to make your product and found out if consumers were interested in buying. Processing brought new challenges and lots of documentation as your team planned for scale-up and researched how to produce a safe and consistent product. Commercialization just finished but may have felt like a whirlwind finalizing product details. As you reflect, answer the following questions.
- What experiences and learnings stand out?
- What surprised you about the process?
- What skills did you use and which skills did you work on and improve during the semester?
- What would you do differently the next time you develop a new product?
Your responses may range from the funny to the more observant. Examples include “food scientists need to know how to do everything” and “just because it should work, does not mean it will” to “what I have learned in this experience will help me get my first job”.
Your experience developing a product can be applied moving forward. In the product development process, your job is not quite done after the product has launched. Typically there are maintenance and improvement tasks including completing real-time shelf-life studies, monitoring issues with production, quality, and distribution, and possibly making changes based on consumer feedback. As you complete this course, you can double-check your career plans. What parts of the development process interested you the most? Are there components you thought you would like, but really did not enjoy? Was your interest sparked somewhere that surprised you? Spending some time with these questions will give you confidence in your job search as you plan for the future.
There is always more to learn, but do not forget your creativity, resourcefulness, communication, teamwork, and attention to detail. Those skills will serve you well in any career path you choose.