Student Sophie Ecclestone wins another coveted food product development placement at Marks & Spencer
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Sophie Ecclestone, a second-year undergraduate studying Food Development and Innovation, is one of just two successful candidates to gain a position on Marks & Spencer’s highly sought after year-long Food Product Development Business placement scheme.
Last year, Sophie won a six-month placement at M&S, her strong performance meaning she could bypass some of the initial rounds of the application process for the retailer’s longer scheme this year.
She described the competition this time around as a case of quality over quantity:
“The position was only open to anyone in their second year of an undergraduate course related to food – so pretty much everyone applying was guaranteed to have a solid understanding of ingredients and what to do with them. It meant the pressure was on when it came to final interviews.
”Sophie’s previous placement with M&S helped her to become familiar with the brand and get to grips with the busy day-to-day life of working in food product development for such a large retailer.
That experience and understanding of Marks & Spencer as a company will be invaluable when it comes to Sophie’s initial stint at M&S’s Head Office, working at the front line of the creative process in creating delicious new products for their world-renowned food department.
Sophie’s placement will involve a real variety of roles, from liaising with suppliers to refining final prototypes of products before they are produced for sale across the country.
After six months at head office, she will spend a further six months with one of the food department’s suppliers to get a rounded view of the industry.
After finishing the placement and going on to complete the final year of her degree, Sophie hopes to cement her career by progressing to the M&S Food Product Development Graduate Programme.
This programme offers 18-24 months of training in the ‘fundamentals of developing truly innovative, first-to-market, outstanding quality products’ for a highly competitive salary, and hopefully, a permanent role in the business.
While this would be a dream come true for Sophie now, food product development only became her passion relatively recently, after a stint of training as a chef. She added:
“Food development allows me to have my own vision and to see that through right to the very finish – I love the creative process involved. I decided being a chef wasn’t for me because I felt I didn’t have as much of an opportunity to go my own way.”
Are you also a creative soul with a passion for food? If so, perhaps a glittering career in food development and innovation is the path for you. To find out more, visit UCB’s College of Food section on our website.