Graduate Stories: Tara Patel

This week we caught up with Tara, who, since the Young Foodies graduate programme, has been super busy getting hands-on experience in the world of food and drink. She has spent the last two months working as a sales and marketing intern at ManiLife. We wanted to know the ins, the outs and the truth behind what it’s like to be an intern in a Young Foodies brand.

Why did you decide to do an internship with challenger food brand?

I always knew I wanted to work in food and drink and landed a place on the Young Foodies Graduate programme! From then, I wanted to get started right away in a permanent role but, due to travel plans, I had to explore other options that would help me learn more about working in the industry.

Tell us a little bit more about the internship you’re doing now. What do you love about it?

Graduate Stories: Tara Patel 1

My role is really broad. I get stuck in wherever I am needed, but my main focus is on growing corporate catering channels. This means building a network with caterers and encouraging them to stock ManiLife peanut butter. I mean why wouldn’t they – it’s delicious! I am in the office and out and about, packing things, delivering things, working at pop-ups and doing samplings. Every day is different and I have had the chance to meet and work with some really influential people in the industry. 

What has this experience taught you about a role in sales and marketing in a food and drink startup?

In honesty, I wanted a role in operations. But I quickly discovered operations comes into anything. Although it’s not my role, being an intern has given me the chance to help the operations manager as and when the business needs it. I didn’t think I would be well suited to sales and marketing but now I love it. I knew that an important thing for me was that I worked with a product I cared about; especially when working in sales, passion for a brand goes a long way in communicating a brand message. I LOVE ManiLife peanut butter so that’s really helped.

I have learnt how diverse a role in a startup can be. One thing I have really noticed is the startup food and drink industry is really interconnected. I have had the opportunity to work so closely with great people in other brands and have built up a great network.

Generally in a startup everyone has much more influence over what happens, everyone works together and we all have a say in the decisions that are made.

Take us back to your first day – what did you do?

It was so good – I had half an hour sit down with everyone in the team to understand who did what and how they fit together. This was so helpful as I knew as soon as I had a question I would know who to ask. Oh, and then I did some admin things.

I knew I would be given a lot of responsibility from the word go – which was pretty scary but after the first week it seemed normal.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

I guess, remembering to do everything. I have had to write everything down as there is so much going on, but it makes it exciting. Oh, and running around with a really heavy bag, often full of weird things… the number of times I’ve had to explain to my friends why I have a bag full of hay at dinner… (don’t ask)!

What would your advice be to another grad thinking about an internship in the space?

If you have the opportunity to do an internship – do it. You might learn something else about what you want to do as you work more generally with the whole team and are exposed to every area.

Always prepare – especially before an interview. Learn about the product, brand and their competitors.

Once you’ve landed a job, I’d advise you to have faith in your own ability. You might not be 100% confident all the time, but that’s fine. Try to not question everything you do – own it and back yourself.

Finally, are you keen to stay in the food and drink space? How do you think this internship has supported you in finding your dream job in food and drink?

Definitely. I knew I always wanted too and still do. I guess the only downfall is before I was sure I wanted to do operations but now love it all. 

I now feel self-assured and know what to expect from a permanent position, especially about how startups function. I am going to have so much to talk about from a short time in my position, which I hope will help me land my next role.

My key advice is – just go for it!

If you are a recent graduate, feel inspired by Taras experience and are interested in an internship within the food and drink space, drop us an email at [email protected] and we will see where we can support you in your first steps in your career!

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