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Xianjia Zeng

About Xianjia

What were you doing prior to your degree program?

I worked full-time as a Key Account HSE Manager for Compass Group in China.

What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in order to participate in the program? 

Leaving my job to go back to school full-time but it was worth it. Cornell, CALS, and the Food Science department provided lots of fantastic resources, and the people all broadened my horizons with great ideas. I got the chance to take other courses outside of CALS, which helped me a lot during my job searching process.

Why did you choose to pursue the MPS degree?

I wanted to switch my career from quality control to pursue leadership positions. The one year Cornell MPS program was the answer as it is an efficient, knowledge-rich program.

What are your post-MPS plans?

I joined The Kerry Group as a Global Training Specialist after graduation. I am based out of Wisconsin and work all over the world. Right now I am in China!

What are the strengths of the program, in your opinion?

My advisor is very supportive academically and personally. He gave me lots of tips when I had trouble with experiments, and provided invaluable suggestions to my personal life. I was able to present my poster at a conference and got the chance to meet my current boss.Food Science also helped me with a large amount of academic resources, seminars, job postings and industrial events. The CALS MPS office held career workshops which equipped me well for looking for a job and the career fair and gave me a lot of great opportunities when I was searching for a job.

What words would you use to describe the MPS degree program?

Great reputation, fast pace, plenty of opportunities, valuable

What have been some of your most rewarding moments while in your program?

The day I presented at the academic conference, the day I presented my project, and the day I received my job offer from the company I want to work for.

What are your short term and long term career goals?

My short-term goal is to step forward in a leadership position and long-term career goal is to go for an MBA and join the consulting industry.

What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals? 

Sensory evaluation course and career coaching course.

What advice would you give to your younger self embarking on the journey of graduate school?

Decide your master project/thesis early, communicate with your advisor frequently, and don’t be afraid when you step out of your comfort zone.

How has your MPS experience changed you, both personally and professionally?

Personally, I could see myself are more willing to step out of my comfort zone and pursue things that I want. Professionally, I gained a lot of in-depth knowledge on olfactory perception, flavor chemistry and sensory evaluation.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Ithaca?

Wineries all over the place!! Please cherish this opportunity because it’s hard for you to find another place that has so many great wineries in the area.

What student organizations are you involved in?

Food Science Club, Johnson School Wine Club

How have the faculty supported your educational goals?

My advisor and professor Terry Acree has been extremely supportive on both the academic and in my life throughout my graduate school experience. He gave me advice on my project when I struggled with conducting experiments and sometimes he even took his precious time helping me with my experiments. He also helped me a lot on choosing a career path and introducing me to people in the industry.