As a product development scientist for Hormel Foods, Rachel Smith enjoys the fact that no two days are the same. Rachel, a University of Illinois animal sciences graduate, develops new products, supports current products, and is a resource for the manufacturing plant on food development.
“I may be working on ham one day and mashed potatoes the next, and then be in our harvest facility looking at fresh pork,” Rachel says. “Hormel makes a wide variety of products and is heavily focused on innovation. It makes my days challenging and fun.”
She believes that communicating effectively is the most important characteristic for excelling, no matter the profession. Rachel must communicate clearly with people at all levels of her organization to ensure that products are produced safely and correctly.
During college, Rachel was very involved in the 4-H House Cooperative Sorority, on the livestock and meats judging teams, and as a cheering fan at Illini basketball and football games.
“My favorite college memories were made in a van taking us to and from contests and practices,” Rachel says.
Rachel worked at the campus Meats Lab, where her decision to obtain her master’s degree in meat science was affirmed. Without this experience, Rachel would not be in the job she is now.
“I think the U of I sets itself apart from other institutions through its wide variety of student organizations,” Rachel says. “U of I is a big school, but no matter what your interests are, there's a good chance there is an organized group with the same ones. There are so many different ways to get involved and feel like you belong at the U of I.”