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In addition to the regular coursework, the Center offers several internship opportunities designed to integrate concepts learned on campus with issues and problems facing the food industry. The Center's Mentor Program links students with food industry executives working in the student's area of interest.
Field Trips expose students to the rich diversity of the food industry through domestic and international site visits. In addition to these programs, the Center sponsors an annual conference, guest lectures, and student-faculty research projects. The University maintains an office of Career Services that is available to all students and alumni, including the Center's MBA's.
The internship program benefits the Center's MBA students in a variety of ways. For students who enter directly from an undergraduate program, an internship provides valuable work experience and an introduction to potential employers. Many students have been able to turn their internships into promising career opportunities. Some students use the internship as a way of specializing in an area such as marketing, operations management, and finance. Internships also provide a chance for students to apply their classroom education in a professional work environment, reinforcing the importance of the methods taught in class. Most importantly, an internship helps the student start the process of developing important industry contacts for the future. The Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship works with each student to identify the internship that meets the student's career objectives. By working with SCU's Career Services and the Center's extensive network of industry contacts, specific companies and even specific executives can be identified as potential employers. The California Beef Council, Harris Moran Seed Company, Ingomar Packing, and the USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service are among the many companies and institutions that have sponsored the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship internships.
The Center's mentor program is a partnership between the CFIE faculty, Board of Advisers, and alumni. The program pairs the Center's MBA students with food industry executives who agree to act as mentors. The mentor program is an outstanding opportunity for students to learn from some of the most talented food and agribusiness executives in the world. Mentors counsel students on career and academic choices, offer an internship to the student or provide assistance in finding one, and often assist the student in their search for employment. Mentors frequently participate in the actives sponsored by the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship and often invite students to visit their companies, tour their facilities, and attend meetings. The innovative mentor program has received high praise from both student participants and industry executives. This unique partnership between industry and the University is unparalleled in MBA programs at other universities. Executives from Ingomar Packing Company, Dole Packaged Foods, SunWest Foods, and Wells Fargo Bank are among the many individuals who are generously serving as mentors to the Center's MBA students.
Twice each year, the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosts industry treks to visit firms and executives competing in the food industry. Locations and companies are chosen to expose students to a wide range of food industry activities. The itinerary is often focused on a theme, such as the fresh-vegetable industry or consumer marketing of food products. The typical site visit begins with a brief introduction to the business by a senior executive, followed by a tour of the facilities. After completing the tour, the group meets with an executive of the firm who makes a presentation concerning his or her area of expertise and answers questions. Participation in the Center's trips helps students learn firsthand about the many diverse and specialized functions performed by modern food and agricultural businesses. Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, Lamb-Weston in central Washington state, Sun-Diamond Growers in central California and the Vessey Company of Mexicali, Mexico, are among the many firms that have hosted a visit from the Center's students.