By: Dena Gershkovich
Over 60 students and faculty from this university attended a panel on careers in food access and security Nov. 2 at the University Career Center in Hornbake Library.
The event was the first of its type to be hosted at the career center, according to Program Director for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Christina Farmer. Students learned about jobs and had the opportunity to network with eight alumni and professionals involved in food security related non-profits, government agencies and private businesses.
Panelists, which included representatives from Food Recovery Network, Alliance to End Hunger, Community Foodworks and the Congressional Hunger Center, detailed their respective jobs and expressed traits they seek in interns.
The event was organized by Farmer and Shannon Felice, program director for the School of Public Health, and lasted from 4:30-6 p.m. Annie Weinschenk, industry development specialist for the Career Center, and Simone Isaacs, career services graduate assistant in the School of Public Health, helped with logistics and marketing, according to Farmer. Felice moderated the event.
Organizers had to turn down panelists due to the growing interest in careers related to food insecurity, Felice said. Food insecurity is one of the main pressing global issues, according to the event description.
“There’s a lot of work to be done and there’s a lot of places where people can get involved,” said Kiana Kelly, development associate for the Congressional Hunger Center and UMD alum.
Many students are interested in pursuing careers that have a “profound impact on society,” according to Farmer. She wrote in an email that there are people on campus and in local communities who do not have consistent access to food.
“A lack of food access is a huge problem for our public health because people are unable to just thrive day to day,” junior community health major Erin Finnessy said. She said she attended the panel to gain information and hear about opportunities related to the topic.
“[The panelists] had very honest and plentiful information … in regard to the skills they look for,” Finnessy said. She added that the event exceeded her expectations.
Manager of Communications and Outreach for The Alliance to End Hunger Nathan Magrath said he decided to be a panelist because he loves talking to students. The Alliance to End Hunger is an advocacy organization made up of smaller organizations that are interested in building the public and political will to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world, according to Magrath.
“I’m really passionate about these issues and I want to be able to make sure that there are other people in this world who share that same kind of passion,” he said.
In order to succeed in the field, several panelists stressed the importance of interns being able to communicate well and write efficiently.
“I think the storytelling theme is huge and relevant everywhere,” said Annie Lobel, director of external partnerships and growth for the Food Recovery Network. She said working in the non-profit sector is “for people who love to collaborate and who really are just relationship people.”
In order to get a “dream job,” panelist Alicia Carter of the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future advised students to be open to attracting a variety of skills.
“Whatever your skills are, just sharpen them and learn whatever you can. I think that will take you very far,” she said.
Featured Photo Credit: Eight food access and security panelists shared information about their careers with over 60 UMD students and faculty Thursday in the University Career Center. (Annie Lobel/ Food Recovery Network)
Dena Gershkovich is a sophomore dietetics and journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.