Interning abroad is an eye-opening way to experience another culture and its workforce. Food science internships abroad allow individuals to learn from professionals who are knowledgeable and established in the field. Those who intern abroad in food science and nutrition will also have the chance to explore issues and concerns surrounding the food industry and health in another country, which will be invaluable to their education and career. Food science and nutritionist internships abroad will allow interns to compare practices used around the world and begin to discover where their passions lie in the field.
Why Intern Abroad in Food Science & Nutrition
If you are looking to intern abroad in food science or nutrition, chances are pretty high that you have some interest in foreign foods. By combining your appetite with your professional talents, you will be able to successfully complete a food science or nutritionist internship abroad. Comparing another country’s stance on food and nutrition to your own will allow you to become more competent in the field, and build your analytical skills as well as cultural understanding.
Where you want to intern abroad is likely dependent on what exactly you want to learn about food science and nutrition. While well developed countries have established food industry practices and nutritional standards, developing countries can provide hands on experience in the areas of poverty and malnutrition specifically. Let your taste buds do the exploring and choose a location that seems most appealing, delicious, and curious to you! But, here is a list of some top picks.
Food science internships in Uganda, known as the breadbasket of Eastern Africa, offer interns the chance to address the “bread box paradox.” This paradox is that there is ample food in the country, however, the majority of households report lacking food and 45 percent of children under the age of five suffer from severe malnutrition. By interning abroad in Uganda, you can work to combat food security issues as well as develop nutritional understanding through education and counseling. Additionally, interns may be able to get engaged with local communities by participating in agricultural workshops, which may allow interns to explore methods of growing a diversity of foods closer to people’s homes or general agricultural techniques.
Choosing to intern abroad in Cameroon gives interns the chance to examine the relationship between food and diabetes specifically, since this disease is a growing concern in Cameroon and basic knowledge of nutrition could help locals drastically. Interns work to raise awareness and education on the topic of increasing health through diet and decreasing risk of diabetes. Some interns may even be asked to prepare healthy delicious meals as well.
Panama offers a wide range of nutrition and food science internship opportunities. Internships may cover permaculture, aquaculture, growing and researching new species, pest control, and organic and sustainable farming, among others. A popular practice in Panama is farm-to-table culinary arts, so many food science internships in Panama are focused on introducing interns to the dynamics of agricultural production and food preparation.
In Iceland, organic food production practices are quite popular, and growing in popularity at a rather fast rate, which means there are a number of food science and nutritionist internships available in related areas. Some examples of internship placements are working in an organic bakery or greenhouse or studying practices in an eco-village. Food science internships in Iceland allow interns to see the behind-the-scenes work that is required for organic food production daily (such as care for plants and shop management). As this subfield of food science and nutrition continues to become increasingly important, work experience with businesses and organizations focused on organic food production can give interns a jumpstart in their career.
Food Science & Nutrition Internships
Many different companies and organizations related to the fields of food science and nutrition accept interns regularly throughout the year. However, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are the largest providers of food science and nutritionist internships abroad. NGOs have an especially high demand for nutrition and food science interns because of the type of services they offer. NGO placements generally cover a range of tasks and activities, from actual meal preparation to engaging with local communities and teaching food education.
Education. Many individuals living in developing countries have limited knowledge of nutrition and the advantages and disadvantages of eating different foods. For this reason, interns are needed to work within the realm of public health, in order to provide nutrition education and help locals understand the impact of food choices. Through this work, interns will be able to act as a point of contact for local populations directly in the field and help improve long-term nutrition and health understanding in specific communities.
Preparation. Being able to adequately and accurately prepare nutritious meals is an important skill all nutritionists should have. Food science internships abroad in meal preparation will allow interns to learn the intricate preparation techniques of a new culture and country, therefore introducing them to the country’s perspective on food and giving them the chance to compare practices with their home country. Those who intern in food preparation can also expect to work in public policy as well, assisting with food related policies, like health codes, sanitation standards, and other good business practices.
Distribution. As a specific area of food science and nutrition, food distribution is vital to the field, since it determines the overall access to food and nutritious meals that any population has. Interns may find themselves helping businesses, organizations, and nonprofits figure out a distribution schedule, effective costs, or better communicate with other likeminded organizations in order to collaborate. One of the most common forms of nutrition internships abroad are those with nonprofits, which help underdeveloped communities who may not have access to healthy food sources or the financial means to purchase nutritious food.
Structure & Requirements. Nutrition internships abroad can be as short as one week or as long as one year, or more. However, most organizations prefer that interns stay for at least one month, and usually more, so both the organization and the intern can benefit most greatly from the internship. Interns typically have the choice to work full or part time, and some interns will be able to divide their time between expanding their knowledge in the field and sharing their knowledge with others (ex. shadowing a nutritionist and then conducting a tutorial in a local community). While it is very important to be well versed in the field for most food science and nutrition internships abroad, not all internships require an academic background in the field. However, the more you do know, the more you will be able to assist.
Benefits & Challenges
- Educating Local Communities. People who choose to intern abroad in food science and nutrition will not only gain invaluable professional experience, they will also be able to help local communities in a tremendous way. Food issues and nutrition problems have always been common throughout the developing world, as well as in developed nations unhealthy foods are even more prevalent, but the need for better nutrition education and understanding is becoming increasingly high. Globalization has continued to make food production a “hot” topic and organizations are seeking more and more people to help address societal problems and find solutions.
- Addressing & Solving Worldwide Problems. While interns may be frustrated by seeing so many different problems present around the world related to food (i.e. malnutrition, diseases, lack of resources), they will also become a source of knowledge and inspiration and help propel improvements and growth.