Charlotte, the "Cream" of the Crop in Dairy Quality Control.


After leaving Dunluce School in 2009 I went to complete my National Diploma at Loughry College Cookstown where I studied Food Technology. I chose to study at Loughry College after I visited the college’s open day. I first heard about Loughry through the careers advisor at Dunluce. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school when starting 5th year; it was the careers advisor that asked me what subjects I was interested in.   My favourite subjects at GCSE level were PE and Home Economics so the careers advisor showed me brochures for North West Regional College, Limavady - to study sports - or Loughry College to study food science. I attended both open days to find out more about the National Diplomas and speak to the lectures, from there I chose to further my education at Loughry College. 

 

When studying at Loughry college I moved up to Cookstown and lived in student halls on campus. Moving out of home 5 days a week was a big decision at 17 years old but this helped me to grow in confidence, make new friends and gain my own independence that I would not have gained as quickly if I stayed at home. 

Loughry was a close-knit environment both in the classroom and in living halls. There was a family environment with all ages of students that stayed in halls and making new friends was quick and easy. There was a close relationship with lecturers and students, and lecturers were always there to give any extra help with classes if needed. What I liked most about Loughry was the hands-on learning as well as theory based learning about the food industry from the side most people take for granted how food actually gets from “farm to fork”.  Loughry has a small-scale factory production areas from bakery to dairy, where we made foods such as pasta, bread and sausages on factory scale. They also have labs where we learned how to assess the quality of food to gain the full knowledge of the food chain. We also went on factory tours around local food factories such as Howell House Bakery (bakery buns and cakes), Moy Park (chicken processing plant), Dunbia (beef processing plant) and Avondale foods (supplies M&S ready to eat meals, salads and sandwiches. During my National Diploma I completed a 14 week placement in WD Meats Coleraine which is a beef manufacturing and processing plant. My placement gave me a good insight to the working food industry and hands on experience within the quality department, I enjoyed working within the lab at WD Meats this helped me decide on following quality path within the food industry. After completing my National Diploma in Food Technology, I decided to stay on at Loughry and complete my BSc Hons Degree in Food Technology.

The food industry was the one of few sectors that continued to rise during the recession and is growing continuously with new development of processes and technology making it a secure future for careers. Therefore it is no surprise at Loughry has an average 92% of students getting jobs or furthering their education after 6 months of finishing their courses. During my final year at Loughry I applied to graduate programmes within different sectors of the food industry and I had secured a job before finishing my last exam! I started 

Ballyrashane Creamery June 2014 (Now LacPatrick Ballyrashane) as a Quality graduate on a year based contract, within 6 months I was overseeing the butter lab in the new butter factory where I was looking after the product release of butter produced on site. In September 2015, I promoted to Quality Control Supervisor over the 4 labs managing 10 members of staff on site covering all QC within the production areas, Milk, Cheese and Butter. Working within the food industry is a challenging and changing environment that has shown me how critical it is that quality is maintained to ensure the consumer has a high-quality end product. There are always new challenges and opportunities within the food industry worldwide therefore I feel that I have made the right career choice.

My advice?   Work hard and take every opportunity during your studies whether that is placement, or opportunities to complete part time studies across the water (Loughry gave the opportunity to complete a semester in Michigan State University). Enjoy student life both academic and social because both will help shape your career, confidence and personal development. Never underestimate yourself, focus and hard work and you can achieve your goals.   There are great opportunities when you work hard. Part time jobs are a great way to get experience and to grow in confidence.