UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Most college students originally enrolled in their studies following high school graduation, but Penn State senior and food science major Steve Bookbinder took a different path.
Bookbinder spent two years at the Culinary Institute of America, and another two years working in the food industry, before deciding to take his experience to the next level. He enrolled in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences to better understand the food industry, specifically the meat industry.
"It's my dream to own my own meat-processing plant and also to be involved in both the import and export of American and European products," said the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native. "My goal while at Penn State is to be exposed to all sorts of different product-development and operations environments in the meat industry."
Last summer, Bookbinder found an opportunity that matched his goal at Animex, Poland's largest meat processing company.
As an operations intern, he was given specific projects concerning operations problems that needed to be solved.
"Animex probably saw my work as an intern as a great opportunity to have someone come at low cost both to learn a lot and to contribute academically to what's going on, and recommend how to streamline processes," he said. "I learned a lot by seeing how the company operated, how it made products, the cultural differences, and the regulations in Europe and how they compare to U.S. regulations. Overall, it was a very good exchange for both the company and me."
From his experience working in kitchens and his exposure to the different culture and workforce in Poland, Bookbinder understands the importance of learning basic skill sets and building upon them to work his way up in the industry.
"Start somewhere and be exposed to different experiences -- that's my advice to other students," he said.
Learn more about Penn State's Food Science major.