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Food and Beverage Industry Internships

Internships in the Food & Beverage Industry

Depending on the time of the year, there may be varying amounts of food and beverage industry internship positions available.  Many companies time internships to correspond to College and University schedules.  

The concept of internships started over a century ago when The University of Cincinatti introduced the concept of the cooperative education program. Today, UC describes the contituents of the co-op as a "triad including the student, the employer and the university".  With the success of the UC program, other U.S. educators took note.    

Northeastern University launched the nation's second integrated cooperative program which quickly differentiated the school from its many Boston higher ed neighbors.  In 1919, shortly after Northeastern University's co-op program proved itself, Philadelphia's Drexel University launched its own co-op program. 

These universities, and many others, use semester or longer cooperative programs as either mandatory or optional parts of their educational programs across a variety of subjects.  Innovative schools such as Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont,have grown beyond the single dimension of work/study and designed curriculum that integrate internships with traditional liberal arts studies as well lifelong career management, community involvement and personal finance.  Champlain's LEAD program (Life, Experience & Action Dimension) requires each student, regardless of their major, to do community service,complete at least one internship during their undergraduate studies (often two) and builds in instructional life skills (such as understanding personal credit and buying a car).  

Even traditional schools, such as Cornell University, recognize the importance of internships.  A quick view of their leading College of Agriculature and Life Sciences website suggests that "internships are one of the most important, and one of the most exciting, components of the Agricultural Sciences program."

One of the reasons many employers select Internships that are monitored and coordinated through a recognized undergraduate or graduate program, is that the United States government has strict rules defining and governing the use of unpaid Interns.  These rules, defined by the Department of Labor (DOL) are designed to protect the person who is working in the for-profit sector.  According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), work is defined broadly and those qualifying as "workers" must be paid at least the minimum wage.  

However, the DOL does recognize the legality of internships and allows that positions which meets the following six criteria (last updated in April, 2010) are not considered "work" and therefore not subject to FLSA rules: 

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation (at) the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If you are interested in a career in the Food & Beverage industry, starting as a cashier at a Supermarket or wait-staff in a restaurant might be the most obvious way to break into the business, and also get spending money, but it will not give you the foundational experience of an internship and a great internship can be just as important as your college diploma.  

To help you understand the broad spectrum of internships available in the industry, has gathered a list of companies that promote internships as an important part of their talent management strategy.

Please note, while employers are expected to clearly indicate whether the position includes monetary compensation or not, the job descriptions are often vague.  Make sure you are aware of both the expectations of the position and the benefits before applying to any company.  Keep in mind, if you have to call or e-mail the company to ask a question, BE POLITE, act professionally!  Job hunting (even internship hunting) can be a frustrating task, even when you are seeking employment with some of the best employers in the world.  

Finally, you may want to note that some companies work primarily with the college and university career centers.  


Make sure you are up to date on who is visiting your campus.  Even if a company is looking for upper classman, if it is an organization you are interested in, visit with them and tell them you are preparing for the future.   

Current Internships Postings

Basic American Foods

Campbell Soup Company

Coca-Cola Company

ConAgra Foods

Land O'Lakes

MillerCoors Leadership Internships



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