Alyssa Irwin

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Alyssa Irwin ’23

Alumni Spotlight: Master’s in Food Business

“That’s really what the program is all about: giving industry hopefuls the confidence to achieve their goals!”

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree and what made you choose the CIA’s master’s program?

I chose to get my master’s degree so I could open every door for myself. I attended CIA for my associate and bachelor’s degrees and I just love the standard the school sets for itself and its students. My degrees mixed with my discipline have already given me so many opportunities. I had no doubt in my mind that the master’s degree would do the same!

Have you landed a new job, begun a new career path, or opened a business since you began your master’s degree journey? How did the CIA master’s program aid in this endeavor?

Since starting the master’s program I’ve been given the tools to alter my career path. While doing the program I’ve realized being a restaurant manager isn’t what I want for my life and have since transitioned into catering sales. The master’s degree has given me the confidence to not feel like I’m stuck on one path!

What advice would you give to others thinking about getting their master’s degree at the CIA?

Do it. As an (almost) three-time graduate of CIA I can’t support it enough. The opportunities to grow and learn are limitless. I have mentors from 2017 who I still go back and give a visit to every time I’m on campus. Everyone WANTS you to succeed, and that is something special.

What course or experience most impacted you? How has it helped you meet your career goals?

The course that impacted me the most was Design Thinking. It gave me a whole new perspective on how to do my research. It’s so creative and out of the box. I’ve actually started using this method at work and have been praised for my excellent organization ever since!

How were you able to balance your personal life and job with your studies?

It hasn’t been easy, but it’s by all means doable. You have to prioritize. Not everything is going to go exactly according to plan every week, so you have to start early. I’ve also taught myself that it’s okay to not turn my homework in days in advance. There’s a deadline for a reason and our professors want us to have a life outside of school and work. It’s all a big dance.

What do you consider to be the strengths of the CIA master’s program?

The CIA master’s program offers so much variety. You get to learn about the unique experiences of so many industry professionals while simultaneously creating your own.

How has the CIA master’s faculty supported your education and professional development?

The master’s program encourages you to make your own connections. Professor Helene York for our Manufacturing course had us reach out to industry professionals, and now I’m preparing to interview the owner of a company I grew up seeing on grocery store shelves. It’s really quite incredible, and I’m so thrilled to have these types of opportunities. It gives me confidence to know that I’m capable of doing it on my own. That’s really what the program is all about: giving industry hopefuls the confidence to achieve their goals!