Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".
Tori Davis graduated from the Illinois Professional Science Master’s Program in December 2015 with a master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. A month later, she started her career with AB InBev as a Group Manager in the Research Pilot Brewery. In this role, she supports the development of new products as well as the continuous improvement of AB InBev's current products and processes.
What skills, competencies, or experiences are essential to your work?
The ability to work as a team is imperative at the brewery. Every member on our team has a role in the brewing process and it is incredibly important to work together and communicate clearly. I can’t stress enough how important communication among the team members is to the brewery. On a daily basis I am presenting data in meetings, troubleshooting issues with coworkers and training new employees. Also, much of what we do at the RPB centers around time management and our ability to prioritize and complete tasks quickly and effectively.
What is the most interesting, rewarding, and/or challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect (and sometimes the most fun) of my job is not knowing what to expect. Each day is different depending on the process area I am working in, the shift I’m on, and the beers we are brewing. There are so many opportunities to learn and to create value for the company - whether it’s coming up with new product ideas or making a particular process safer or more efficient. It is also very rewarding to know that I am contributing to the creation of products that people all over the world enjoy.
What has been the most valuable transferable skill you gained from graduate school?
Resiliency! Graduate school can be very challenging, not everything ends up going as planned and not every test comes back with an A on it. Failure is inevitable sometimes, but realizing and accepting it is the first step to making improvements. The ability to overcome obstacles and not let them deter further progress is very valuable in the workplace. At the brewery, there are challenges and opportunities to improve every day. Remaining positive while working through issues cultivates a better work environment for everyone.
What experiences made an impact on your career choices?
My internship the summer prior to my final semester probably had the largest impact on my career choice. I was able to get an inside glimpse at the food industry and apply what I had learned in my classes to real food production. It helped me hone in on exactly what aspects of the industry most interested me and gave me perspective on what different career paths may be like. My internship and other work experience were actually the parts of my resume that recruiters wanted to hear about most and I think I was able to stand out because of it.
What is one piece of advice you would give to graduate students at Illinois?
Try to gain as much real world experience (i.e. jobs, internships, shadowing etc.) as possible while still in school. It is those experiences that will be most applicable and beneficial post-graduation. Utilize all of the resources that Illinois has to offer, there are so many dedicated staff members that are there to help students. Finally, enjoy your time on campus, it goes by too quickly!
This interview is part of the monthly Grad Life series called "Where Are They Now?" which chronicles the career paths of recent Univeristy of Illinois Graduate College alumni. This interview was conducted by Derek Attig. Derek is Assistant Director for Student Outreach in Graduate College Career Development. After earning a PhD in History here at Illinois, Derek worked in nonprofit communications and instructional development before joining the Career Development team. A devotee of libraries and all things peculiar, Derek is currently writing a book about bookmobiles.