Jenna Woodward was not quite sure exactly she wanted to do while getting her dual degree in food science and hospitality from UMass Amherst. Bumping back and forth from liking and disliking each of her majors, she realized her love of food science in her senior year.
Woodward graduated and found her way to Table Talk Pies in Worcester as a quality assurance technician. She has since been promoted to QA supervisor.
With a mix between floor and office work, her job is about ensuring everything is operating at audit standards.
“You look for the problems and then you look for how to improve them,” said Woodward.
Woodward checks in on all the processing points in the making of the pies themselves, whether it be checking the weight of the dough, spread of the milk wash, dough’s temperatures, oven’s temperature, and more.
And then comes to processes after the pies are made. She checks on packaging and labelling, making sure boxes are going to the right customers and any flawed pies are taken off the line.
“There is a gray area with everything, but here there is really a black-and-white [standard]: This is right, and this is wrong,” said Woodward. “There is an answer, you just have to find it.”
Her job is a lot of problem solving, and she loves it.
“I love saying [when a problem arises], this is what you do and these are the steps you have to follow,” said Woodward.
Moreover, there are many different options in the manufacturing and food industries.
“In the food industry and in manufacturing, there’s a million pathways you can take and something for everyone,” said Woodward.
There’s no top or ceiling, you can keep moving up and up and in whatever direction is most interesting for you, said Woodward.
In the future, Woodward has to make the decision between moving into the food policy side of things and working for or with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, looking at improving food manufacturing across the country, or continue on her current track in Table Talk and work up to being QA manager, really getting into the nitty gritty of what it takes to create food safely.