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Internship True Story: Chris Eckerman

Internship True Story: Chris Eckerman

Tell us about where you grew up

I grew up on a farm in the countryside outside the small town of Antigo in North Central Wisconsin. My parents had originally met at a dairy industry conference and worked at my grandfather’s dairy and cheese plant for several years before it closed. I have always had ties to the cheese industry.

Tell us about where you went to school and what for:

University of Wisconsin- Madison

Major: Food Science

Focus on cheese and dairy

Tell us about your internship, how it came about, what it was in, etc.

In my final year at Madison, I specifically sought out the Agropur booth at the Fall Career Fair. I set up an interview with the representatives present because I was familiar with Agropur’s reputation for high quality products and a positive working environment. The day after the career fair, I had numerous interviews that turned into several offers for full time employment. However, Agropur was my first choice as an employer. When they were able to offer me three different opportunities within different departments, my decision was easily made. Ultimately, I passed on a full time employment opportunity so I could join Agropur for an internship within Cheese Product Development.

What types of things did you work on and how was the working environment? 

During my internship, I worked on two major projects: the stabilization of moisture in pasta filata mozzarella and the commissioning of a new Product Development lab and test kitchen. These projects provided great breadth and allowed me to get hands on experience in both the plant and lab environment.

How did your internship start to evolve into a full-time career with Agropur?

Given that I had already graduated, there was an understanding from the beginning that both myself and Agropur would utilize the internship to evaluate each other. Before the three month internship was over, it was clear there was a desire on both sides to find a full time role for myself.

Can you talk a little bit about where you are now and what kind of things you work on?

In the approximately two years I have been with Agropur, I have been in four different roles. Following my role as a Cheese Product Development Intern, I became the first person to enter Agropur’s Future Leader Program within Research and Development. This allowed me to garner more experiences and see different aspects of Agropur across various locations. After a year within the program, I was asked to, again, join the Product Development and Technical Services team as Product Development Specialist. In this role, I worked on a wide range of projects and new product developments. Most recently, I accepted a role at the Hull, Iowa plant as a Cheese Technical Manager. In this role, I am responsible for all cheese make recipes and product quality for up to 17 different cheeses.

Why do you love Agropur? 

Agropur has a distinct dedication to producing the best natural cheeses in both the United States and the world. This is evident by the numerous championship cheese products produced across so many of the US Cheese plants. This is accomplished due to the exceptionally talented individuals employed by Agropur, who have a wealth of knowledge, industry experience, and accolades behind them to help drive Agropur into the future of the dairy industry. These folks are an absolute pleasure to work with and learn from. Lastly, but most importantly, Agropur has a fantastic culture of integrity as well as exceptional collaboration between the plants and the support functions that surround them.

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