A Passion for Food, Nutrition and Sustainable Practices Lands ARAMARK Intern New Role at University Of Chicago

Ila Galanti talks about her internship experience and how it led to a new position as an ARAMARK Registered Dietitian
Jan 25, 2012 2:30 PM ET

ARAMARK's Environmental Internship Program, hosted in partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), is designed to meet a growing need for employees who have a practical understanding of environmental initiatives plus fundamental business knowledge. Interns are hired for a period of six to nine months to work at an ARAMARK client location where they focus on specific environmental initiatives while finding the right balance between fiscal responsibility and models of operational excellence. In this blog, intern Ila Galanti talks about her experience at the University of Chicago, which led to a job as an ARAMARK Registered Dietitian for the University of Chicago’s Dining Services.

For Ila Galanti, who started her career out of college as an ARAMARK Environmental Intern, food and environmental sustainability have always gone hand-in-hand.

“I remember as a child always loving to be in the kitchen, helping my mom and my grandmother cook,” recalled Ila, who grew up in Atlanta, and studied nutrition at the University of Arizona.

“Environmental stewardship was also something that I was taught at a young age. My parents always recycled, my mom had a compost pile in our backyard, and I learned to appreciate the environment because we spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains of North Georgia.”

While she was in college, the interconnection between healthy people and a healthy planet came together for her. She had the opportunity to work at a local farmer’s market on campus, and grew interested in locally grown foods and how the availability of fresh produce influences the health of the community.

“I was so amazed at the variety of food that was grown in southern Arizona” like regional delicacies such as prickly pear cactus fruit and mesquite pods, she said. As the manager of the University of Arizona’s Farmer’s Market, she spent a semester educating people about the local foods and their health benefits.

When Ila heard through the Student Conservation Association about the ARAMARK Environmental Internship Program she knew it was the right fit for her.

“I was very interested in this internship because it integrated many of my personal and professional interests in food, nutrition and sustainability,” she said. “It also gave me an opportunity to gain experience in a field with a company where I knew there could be a potential career path.”

Ila was part of the inaugural class of 10 ARAMARK Environmental Interns in 2011, working at the University of Chicago’s Dining Services group as a Sustainable Dining Intern. She was charged with promoting composting, recycling, locally grown and produced foods, and other environmentally sustainable practices on campus. Ila also became the liaison between the sustainability groups on campus and ARAMARK, helping to support initiatives like reusable water bottle campaigns and efforts to increase composting on the campus.

She learned some new skills on the job too.

“I did not have much experience in marketing, and I learned a lot about it through the internship,” she said. “I approached the internship with a very open mind, and I had so many resources on campus and ARAMARK management support through the internship. I made it a priority to use those resources to help me accomplish my goals.”

Ila was quickly able to demonstrate the value of her expertise and her role to the ARAMARK team at the University of Chicago. One of the accomplishments she is most proud of is the development of a nutrition labeling system, which she remodeled to make it easier for the dining team to use, while meeting the client’s high expectations and standards for food labeling.

Due to her success as an intern, the initiative she took in developing programs, along with her nutrition background, Ila was offered a full time role in the newly-created position – ARAMARK Registered Dietitian - at the University of Chicago upon completion of the internship.

Ila credits her ARAMARK internship with teaching her how to work with a dining services team and make valuable contributions regarding nutrition while also supporting environmental sustainability programs.

“Nutrition awareness is something that is very important to the students and I was able to provide expertise on the subject and help promote it on campus,” she said. “My ARAMARK internship helped me to realize that within a large corporate there are many things that can be done to support environmental sustainability.”

“I think it’s great that ARAMARK supports the efforts of the students and faculty throughout campus. I know that for the students at the University of Chicago, it is very important to them to feel connected to their food, where it comes from, who made it, and what is in it,” Ila said. “The programs I assisted with helped students feel more connected to the dining program.  I would never have imagined that I could have a job that incorporates sustainability and large-scale foodservice, but through this internship I have found a job that I love.”