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Valued voice in an environment for food innovation

20 April 2017

Karl Sternberg found that fitting within the organisational culture of his host business provided a platform for constructive discussions and opportunities to learn, innovate and set a standard for new interns.

Food and Agribusiness student, Karl Sternberg

Food and Agribusiness student, Karl Sternberg

Mr Karl Sternberg put the knowledge he acquired throughout studying Food and Agribusiness into context during his third-year industry internship with Perfection Fresh Australia.

“I was able to apply the skills I have gained over the past few years to benefit not only myself, but the business that I worked for,” Karl said.

A surprising and encouraging outcome of the internship was that Karl had a voice in the organisation.

Businesses appreciate someone who can work within their organisational culture, and are open to any ideas you may have.
Karl Sternberg, Food and Agribusiness student

“I had the opportunity to offer my opinion on many occasions. I initially thought that my ideas and opinions were menial, however many have been taken on board, and I had input into a number of future business decisions for the company.

“I learnt that no matter what level of skills you think you have, businesses appreciate someone who can work within their organisational culture, and are open to any ideas you may have,” Karl said.

Joseph Quinn from Perfection Fresh Australia (left) standing with student, Karl Sternberg (right)

Joseph Quinn from Perfection Fresh Australia (left) with Karl Sternberg (right).

Joseph Quinn is the Chief People Officer at Perfection Fresh Australia. He said:

“Karl demonstrated a fantastic attitude and maturity in the workplace. His current academic achievements, coupled with his previous work experience as a chef, made him a perfect fit for the business.”  

And Karl thought Perfection Fresh Australia was a pretty perfect fit for him, taking on a part-time job with the business after completing his internship.

“I was extremely fortunate to gain employment in a department that I was unable to work in during my internship. I have been working with the mango team, gaining many extra skills, from sales to distribution and logistics as well as the opportunity to make contact with many of our large customers,” Karl said.

This role builds on the experience Karl gained working on projects for his internship.  

Joseph Quinn said Perfection Fresh Australia hoped Karl would be exposed to a range of different areas in the industry during his placement – everything from paddock to plate. By all accounts, Karl got a taste of all that the company has to offer.

“I worked across a diverse range of duties and this gave me a great overview of all aspects of the business. I conducted shelf life trials for new products; sensory evaluations for tomatoes, mangoes, broccolini, blueberries and raspberries; quality assurance assessments; new product development; trials for increasing production efficiencies; trials for innovative packaging for berries; consumer research; and I worked in the processing facility to understand everything from cutting, processing, packing and distribution,” Karl said.  

“The industry contacts and experience gained has been invaluable. I have made many contacts within my company, which have also led to contacts within industry. The experience has given me confidence in working within the food industry, and I believe I will be much better prepared for my next job opportunity.”

Karl will complete his fourth-year research project this year, and Perfection Fresh Australia, who took two interns from the University of Sydney last year, is looking forward to the program again this year.

“We are always looking to introduce new talent into the business. We also find that interns can bring great new ideas to our business and are not afraid to innovate. They are often highly motivated, and this can bring a great buzz to the office.   

“We would highly recommend the program to other businesses and we are offering two internship places for students in 2017. We are keen to once again have young, focused minds in the business who are keen to take part and make a positive contribution,” said Chief People Officer, Joseph Quinn.

The internship program for Food and Agribusiness provides an excellent avenue for undergraduate students to make industry connections and gain experience in the real-life operations of businesses.