A business project took the place of books and lectures when student Liva Hansen seized the opportunity to test her biological knowledge at a food company. According to food companies, students add value to the business community.
What have you actually learned as a biology student after more than three years of lectures and laboratory work? And what can you do with this knowledge?
Liva Hansen, a 26-year-old student, decided to find out when, as one of the first biology students, she grasped her chance to exchange her teaching with a 20 ECTS business project at ISI Food Protection. Neither Liva Hansen nor the company has regretted their collaboration.
ISI Food Protection specialises in protecting food against harmful micro-organisms, and the company's focus on food microbiology gave Liva Hansen ample opportunity to test several different microbiological methods and standards in practice.
- I saw the business project as a perfect opportunity to get out and apply some of the theory I've learned in real life. It's been fun to get out there and test things in a company, she says.
Liva Hansen has always been interested in microbiology, and for her, working with ISI Food Protection was an exciting prospect.
- Of course, the first thing was to learn the workflows at the workplace and in the laboratory. Because it's a food company, they receive a lot of different samples, and I assisted in many routine analyses. Many of the samples have to be processed in different ways, because they contain different substances, she says.
Liva also worked on some larger projects. Among other things, she helped test a very heat-tolerant bacterium with a customer, and she worked with biofilm. In both projects, she was allowed to work more independently.
- I think I've gained a lot from working independently. There is no one to hold your hand in the same way as at the university, where your teacher can always answer your questions. Here, you need to know what to do. You have to find out what to do and how to do it yourself, says Liva Hansen.
She encourages other students interested in doing a business project to find a company they are strongly motivated to work for. Liva Hansen’s supervisor at ISI Food Protection agrees.
- The student’s motivation and interest is crucial. This is what drives the project, says Anne Elsser-Gravesen, who is the founder and owner of ISI Food Protection together with her husband, Dieter Elsser-Gravesen.
The business project is not just about giving students a positive experience. The company also benefits from the collaboration: an extra, highly motivated brain. There are a lot of advantages in entering into an agreement,” says Anne Elsser-Gravesen, and she encourages other companies to embark on a business project with an interested student.
- For me, there's no doubt that it's a good idea. I can only think of good reasons to support young people who want to learn more about food microbiology. Too few people can understand this field and work with it in industry. So when a person wants to work in this field, we do all we can and we try to be open. This applies to business projects as well as other projects, says Anne Elsser-Gravesen and continues:
- As a company, we get extra hands – and an extra brain. So, if you have an assignment or a project in which it would be nice to have an extra, hard-working employee, a business project makes a lot of sense.