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Manufacturing Careers in Consumer Goods

Manufacturing companies in the consumer goods sector make and sell products that are intended for the direct use by the consumer. Companies in this sector span across food & beverage production, packaged goods, clothing, automobiles and electronics.  In 2019, the U.S. consumer goods market (defined as consumer packaged goods) was the largest in the world, estimated at $635 billion, based on a comprehensive study conducted by Statista. Career opportunities in this sector range from  innovation & product development, supply-chain, data scientists, regulatory,  software developers, food scientists, AI specialists, and experts in robot repair and maintenance.

Skills needed to enter these careers:

As companies move to automation, there is a greater need for technical skills as well as problem solvers, and individuals who can think analytically and creatively.  There is a need for strong, effective oral and written communication skills across all areas within this sector. In addition some roles require scientific or technical writing skills.  Experience and skills in relationship and project management will benefit those leading and/or working on teams as they interact with colleagues, suppliers and customers.  

How the industry hires and when:

The economy can have a big impact on which companies are hiring. Some high-priced items, such as cars and high-cost electronics may see less sales in a weaker economy, while items such as food and clothing are generally consistent. With regards to the 2020 pandemic, food and technology purchases have increased while retail infrastructure has taken a big hit. E-commerce has jumped especially for brands that offer or are pivoting to lounge-wear and comfortable clothing, and companies in the beauty/cosmetic industry are seeing more consumer interest in the personal care options (moisturizer, facemasks) and less for traditional make-up (lipstick).  It is important to be aware of company trends in reaction to the economy and the consumer behavior due to the virus.  

Traditional recruitment timelines for full-time opportunities in manufacturing tend to begin in early fall with the recruitment process continuing throughout October/November resulting in offers by winter. Internship recruitment tends to start in late fall and continue into the winter months, usually wrapping up by early spring. Note that each organization has its own timeline based on their hiring needs. Students should research companies and connect with recruiters and/or alumni in this sector to learn more. 

Join this week’s Consumer Products Meet & Greet: Thursday, Oct 22 from 4-7 pm.

Talking with Bucknell alumni and parent contacts, as well as employer representatives is an excellent way to dig deeper into the industry and learn more. Sign up on Handshake.

Resources for finding more information, companies and positions:

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