Who: Colleen Dommel, 2020 Food Science and Technology Alumni
How it happened: After a Hershey recruiter introduced her to VT Food Science Club, Dommel sent him her resume. Her double major in Spanish (Hershey has a facility in Mexico) and her ability to explain the projects she worked on led to a proposal for a field work co-op lasting two semesters.
what she did: Dommel’s salaried co-op works in Hershey’s continuous improvement department, which tests small recipe changes to improve profit margins — for example, using a cheaper sugar supplier. She was the first to replace a candy ingredient, saving The Hershey Company more than $1.5 million. “I’m actually doing things that really impact the company,” she said. Back at Virginia Tech, she breezed through food chemistry, quality assurance, and product development classes thanks to the skills she learned at Hershey. “I could sit in the food chemistry department and we’d talk about crystallization of sugar and I’d think, ‘Oh, I made toffee. Yeah, that makes sense.'”
What happened next: When Dommel’s cooperative was coming to an end, her manager offered to place a position just for her. “I told them I had a full year left,” she said, “and they said, ‘No problem, we’ll keep this position for you.'” It made me feel really good. ’ Now she’s a food technologist at Hershey—she’s the one who enrolls students at the co-op. (Yes, Hershey is full of candy. Unfortunately, no River of Chocolate.)