Fast-Paced Career in Beverage Industry Fills Her Cup
By Sue McMurray
“Work doesn’t feel like work when you are making something sugary and delicious.”
A phrase that could have been coined by Willy Wonka is the real-life sentiment of Madeline Ryan (’20), a WSU food science graduate working in the beverage industry. As a research and development technician for Eagle Beverage Products in Kent, Washington, Ryan creates and packages products such as coffee syrups and bar mixes for private label beverage companies.
Despite being very new in her role and working alone in a lab, Ryan says she already feels like an important member of the team. Taking customer specifications and developing products to fit the parameters for production at her facility keep her busy. She also works to improve upon Eagle’s own private label products.
“I chose a career in the food and beverage industry because it includes so many different products and possibilities,” she says. “I wanted to go into research and development for beverage because I was inspired by Starbucks. It seems basic, but Starbucks has made incredible innovations in the beverage industry, and their work really interests me.”
Hospitality training instills professional skills for career success
Working as a lead chocolatier, pastry chef, and back of house support for WSU Crimson Confections prepared Ryan for success in her current role. The experience taught her how to work on a team, be a dependable coworker, act like a professional, and be taken seriously, she says.
She credits Jessica Murray (’15 Food Sci., HBM, ’17 MS), a lead pastry chef and chocolatier for Crimson Confections, for showing her how to create products and solve problems by applying food science knowledge.
“I learned how to be a leader and also how to make suggestions to others to improve work life,” says Ryan. “Chef Jamie Callison challenges students to be responsible for their products, speak up when they think change is needed, and do it in a professional way.”
WSU reputation, accessibility a top choice
Ryan, who is from Sammamish, Washington, knew she wanted to be a food scientist since she was a junior in high school. She chose the WSU Food Science program because it was in state and reputable—“it was the only place I wanted to go,” she says.
The best things about her career are the fast pace and problem-solving. “I love that I always have a new project lined up after I complete one,” she says. Editing quantities and finalizing in-house recipes takes production into the next day. Recipes for clients usually take more time, requiring samples, production sheets, lab tests, label creation, and FDA certification, she explains.
To those considering a career in the food and beverage industry, she offers this advice: “It is like any other industry. Always try to be flexible and to adjust to anything that can go wrong. Nothing is or ever will be perfect, so always ask if you have questions and get multiple opinions.”