Final Reminder: May 1 MPS Application Deadline

last callIf you hope to attend Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program this fall, there’s still time to apply – but you’d better hurry.

The window for applying closes at midnight on May 1. Applicants who meet the deadline will have an additional 30 days to provide supporting materials, including GRE scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

The program still has a few openings and welcomes additional applicants. Minimum requirements include a 2.75 GPA, scores at or above the 50th percentile on the GRE, and exposure to college-level biology and chemistry.

The Master of Professional Studies in Dairy Products Technology is a one-year Masters program that trains students for management and leadership roles in the growing international dairy foods industry. The program has a high placement record with numerous industry-leading companies. Starting salaries for graduates average $65,000 – 75,000.

Questions? Call, text, or email me anytime. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tom Photo 2015Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell

Checking in with MPS graduate Kim Do

Editor’s Note: After earning a B.S. in Biology from University of California – Irvine in 2014, Kim Do entered Cal Poly’s MPS in Dairy Products Technology program. As part of her program, she completed a Quality Assurance internship at Land O Lakes’ Kent, Ohio facility. Kim earned her MPS degree in September 2015.

kim do
Cal Poly MPS student Kim Do at her June 2015 graduation ceremony.

TWJ: Hi, Kim – great to catch up with you. How’s life since leaving Cal Poly?

KD: It’s been good. It was a really good change. Leaving Cal Poly also meant leaving California. I’ve been grateful for the experience I’ve had so far.

TWJ: You’ve been out of school for six months now. What adjustments have you faced?

KD: Well, I moved to Minnesota, so my first adjustment was the weather. I just made it through my first Minnesota winter. It’s been a mild one, but even so, it has still been pretty cold!

TWJ: Tell me a bit about what you’re doing now.

KD: I work for Land O Lakes. I’m a production supervisor at our Pine Island plant, where we make cheese powder. My crew is around 11 guys. I manage their daily work and learn the processes as we go. I learn what they do every day, so that together, we can make quality cheese products.

TWJ: So you actually manage 11 guys?

KD: Yes.

TWJ: Any women?

KD: No – just 11 guys.

TWJ: What’s it like for a young woman managing men in a manufacturing setting?

KD: It could be intimidating at first. Half the guys are twice my age, and the younger guys are still older than me. There are differences in where we come from. I just focus on learning what they do and trying to get as much knowledge from them as I can.

Eventually I will go to nights, and my new crew will be less experienced. The current guys have been really helpful in getting me prepared for that transition. They’ve been very supportive of me coming on board. I’m still learning, and the more questions I ask, the more I learn. It’s been good so far.

TWJ: What’s it like managing people who are older and potentially more experienced than you?

KD: Some of them take on almost a parental role. I’m the same age as some of their kids, and as a result, I think they have a better understanding of the challenges I face as a young woman. They can picture what it would be like for their own kids. Those are the people who have been the most helpful, and I get a lot more guidance from them. They realize that I’m learning a lot of things very quickly, so they tell me that it’s okay for me to keep asking them questions.LOL Butter

TWJ: Take me through your typical day. What are your responsibilities? How do you spend your time?

KD: In the mornings, we have our 10-minute meetings. We meet with the supervisor from the last shift to find out how things went. We talk about any issues with quality or safety. We talk about any equipment issues. We really get the rundown on what’s going on in the plant as we do our shift change.

Then we do our stretches so we don’t get any injuries…

TWJ: Wait – you actually stretch before work?

KD: Yeah, it’s a new thing. We encourage people to do stretches during their shifts, so we do some first thing to get started – arm stretches, neck stretches…

Then we do our shift change, and I just help out anywhere I can – labeling bags, cleaning up, completing paperwork, wrapping up work orders, putting away pallets with the forklift.

TWJ: Did you know how to run a forklift before you started this job?

KD: No, I didn’t.

TWJ: How was that?

KD: It was kind of scary at first. It’s hard putting pallets on the third level, especially with the older forklifts. They aren’t as stable, and the load can rock a bit when it gets up high. They tell me I’ll get better with more practice!

TWJ: Do you feel cool driving a forklift?

KD: When I’m not sucking at it terribly, sure. When everything goes right, I’m like, “Yeah, I just put that load away in less than five minutes.” It feels pretty good!

TWJ: Do you find the work rewarding?

KD: Yeah, I would say so. I’ve heard good things back from my crew, so its nice to know I’m doing a good job. Some of them have told me they want me to stay on this shift. That’s rewarding. I feel like I must be doing some things right.

TWJ: How did you decide to pursue a career in the dairy industry? And how did you land in the MPS program?

KD: I was already looking into master’s programs for food science. I had always had a love for ice cream and cheese. A high school friend told me she had applied to the MPS program and got in, so I took a look at the program, and it looked really interesting. The more I learned, the more excited I got. I knew I wanted to utilize my biology background, and the MPS program would allow me to do that. It all kind of worked out.

TWJ: What courses or experiences at Cal Poly have been the most helpful?

KD: Having a background in some of the dairy processes definitely helps. Knowing the lingo has also been really helpful, especially when I’m talking with other managers. The program provides a really good foundation. When you take that foundation and apply it to an actual production plant, you realize how much it helps.

TWJ: What could you have used more of?

KD: More leadership guidance – instructions on how to lead. Those things are hard to teach in the classroom, but if you don’t have any exposure or training, and then you go into a union plant, the crew might eat you alive – especially as a young female. Having some exposure to leadership concepts definitely helped, but having more exposure would have helped even more.

TWJ: What are some of the challenges you face at work?

KD: Right now I have a really good crew. They accept that we’re trying to change for the better. If I get a crew that is not as willing to change, that would be hard.

 TWJ: Where do you see yourself in a few years?

KD: I don’t know yet. I’m still just getting the hang of my current role. My manager has given me some options on where I could go next, but I don’t quite know yet.

TWJ: What would you say to students considering the MPS program?

KD: I never really saw myself working in the dairy industry when I first joined. It opened my eyes to a different world. Even if you decide operations is not for you, you could find a different part of the industry, because its so big.

TWJ: Are you in touch with any of your MPS classmates? Did you make good friends while you were here?

KD: I did make some good friends, and I still keep in touch with a few.  Life’s gotten really busy, and all of us are in different roles. I speak with Kelsey regularly. Ben is visiting my plant soon. It will be interesting to see how he’s doing. I see David now and then, since he’s working an hour and a half north of me. We built some great friendships along the way.

TWJ: What do you miss about San Luis Obispo? 

KD: Bishop’s Peak. I climbed it almost every weekend with Kelsey and some of the others. And I miss the weather. The past couple of months, its been a little crazy – I haven’t been outside much because it’s so cold out. I’m really looking forward to spring!

TWJ: Give me your best sales pitch: Why should students consider joining Cal poly’s MPS in dairy products technology program?

KD: Before I joined the MPS program, I never knew what this industry had to offer, and I didn’t know what I was capable of. I didn’t think I could be a leader. But after taking the courses and completing the program, I learned how big the industry is, and I realized that there is a place for me in it. I learned what my potential is, and now, there are so many directions I could go. The same could happen to anyone who enrolls in the program.

TWJ: Thanks for spending time with me, Kim. It’s been great talking with you.

KD: You’re very welcome, Tom.

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to:

Tom Photo 2015

Tom Johnson. Program Manager
MPS in Dairy Products Technology
(970) 215-3459 cell