CHICAGO — Your early twenties are one of the most unique times in your life. It’s full of fun, hope and a little bit of fear as the beginning of your professional life is on the horizon. It’s a universal experience for all generations, but it’s safe to say that those who are in this stage of life now are playing a whole new ball game.

The labor shortage is crippling many businesses while the working people of the world are reprioritizing what they want out of a job, and the baking industry is deadset on figuring out how to not only attract these young people, but also keep them happy. It was a major topic of discussion at the American Society of Baking (ASB)’s BakingTECH conference, held March 1-3 in Chicago.


Several young professionals were in attendance learning more about the industry, asking questions and getting to know prospective employers. Angel Go, Julia Duddles and Marisela Robles, all students at California State Polytechnic University Pomona, shared their insights on what they are looking for as young women of the workforce and what left an impact on them as they got an inside look at the industry.

The team of young women were at the conference not only to make connections, but to showcase their project Upswirlz in ASB’s product development competition. They took home a second-place award for their concept of guava filled rolls, a bite-sized indulgence filled with fiber, vitamin C and featuring upcycled ingredients. Duddles said that attending the conference and seeing all the types of companies that were out there was exciting, and that she enjoyed seeing the baking industry extend a hand to students.

“Sometimes you don’t know what’s out there as far as big companies and small companies, so coming to events like this is awesome,” she said. “I’m also on LinkedIn a lot and love seeing companies post about what they are doing both in and outside of work for their employees. It’s great to see a company culture like that.”


And these days, culture is everything. The pandemic has scrapped the playbook of what work used to look like, and now people are expecting to be put first when it comes to flexibility, support and opportunities to grow. Employees want to feel like their company is open, honest and rooting for them to succeed through adequate training, mentorship and beyond.

“Transparency is huge to me,” Go said. “I want to connect to people within the company and see their experience. It’s just like what the economist said, treat your people nice and they will stay.”

Robles, who is a young entrepreneur that would love to start her own company one day, also expressed how she wanted to help lift other women in the industry up as she advanced in her career. That’s something that the baking industry is really focusing on, although there is still work to be done.

“I’d love to start my own company one day, but it is a male-dominated field which can be nerve-wracking,” she said. “Seeing that they had that women’s panel during this event does speak volumes, and it really shows that the industry is trying to make a positive change. And they weren’t just speaking to the women in the room, there we a lot of men in the audience as well.”


The baking industry is hard at work to open the doors to young students and let them in to see all that it does to feed the world, and how they can succeed in helping that mission. Many industry events are in sync with ASB’s efforts to bring young professionals in, including the International Baking Industry Expo (IBIE), to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center Sept. 17-21.

To watch Go, Duddles and Robles’ presentation on their product, check out this YouTube video.