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This is a guest blog post by current student Faith Annet, studying BSc (Hons) Nutrition.

My placement is with a kombucha company based just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland. Kombucha is a fermented tea that offers health benefits from promoting healthy gut bacteria and aiding digestion hence its nickname of ‘Elixir’ of health drinks. It’s an alternative for alcohol or a low-in-sugar beverage. The company produces blends from basic black and green tea to fruity herbal and craft inspired kombucha drinks and most recently sparkling teas.

Finding my placement

I used various media platforms to find a placement via career sites on social media. I applied for several locally based companies here in Northern Ireland. However, I didn’t hear back from many and others I didn’t make it past the interview process.

Luckily, I came across a small beverage company on Instagram via a friend’s account. I reached out through email and explained to the owner that I was willing to volunteer for experience in the food and health industry. I expressed my interest and that I was keen to learn about his trade. So, an agreement was drafted and shortly after, I began my placement.

Support

The placement coordinators were very understanding of the current situation of the pandemic and how this adversely affected my chances of a placement. They persevered in helping, by assisting me to restructure my CV to make it more professional and suitable to what I was applying for, to writing a cover letter and to checking in now and then via Zoom. This helped the most, as it made sure that progress was being tracked but just a general chat to see how we felt and if it was benefiting us in the long run.

Placements during a pandemic

Fortunately, my placement was a small local company just starting up and there was only the three of us, so it made it a less complicated process of implementing social distancing, wearing PPE, designating work space etc. However, it made me realize that it was difficult to interact with customers and other local businesses that could sell the product. These barriers made us rethink the process of accessibility (click and collect service) and communicating (creating a social media presence) to what the business had to offer during Covid-19.

Skills and knowledge

I acquired many skills ranging from meticulous attention to food quality control and food hygiene and safety, specifically tailored to the how the beverage process operates. Good team working abilities particularly boosted my communication and understanding of processes and terminology used within the business. My growth in the ability to work independently made me feel more confident and my awareness, in that I was completing tasks effectively, such as testing and examining samples of kombucha daily.

Why I chose a placement year

I decided that I wanted a taster of what I was getting myself into and I’m glad I pursued my placement because it definitely made it a reality of what it’s like to work in the field of nutrition, even if it was a food company. I gained insight to what goes on from a marketing and business side too!

I would highly recommend to any student, let alone those who applied for nutrition, to go and find experience in what you want to do. It makes you push yourself that bit harder to understand what you want out of it and the outcomes can be very rewarding.

What’s it like to study the Nutrition course?

Nutrition at Bournemouth University covers a range of aspects in the nutrition field from food processing and development to psychological and psychosocial analysis and promoting health and wellbeing. The versatility is indispensable because it not only helps maintain interest but covers many areas that will help you succeed in gaining keys skills and knowledge for a future career.

Why I chose Nutrition?

I have always held a conscientious interest in food, health and sustainability in the human food chain. Also learning new ways of improving standards of health and wellness by applying in my everyday life. In addition, I felt it offered a solid foundation for other careers too.

Using the food laboratories on campus

A prime example of practical activities within the course was using food laboratories. It creates an understanding of a food science environment and boosts your confidence, by gaining experience with equipment and following scientific procedures.

My career aspirations

Before starting my placement, I was uncertain to what aspect of nutrition I wanted to pursue. The placement has directed my interests in wanting to know more about the impact of the food product on health and wellbeing rather than how it’s produced. This has orientated towards a possible career of being a dietitian in the future!

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