Ellie Kardaras ’06 is a market research manager at Petco. Ellie majored in chemistry at Bryn Mawr before earning her master’s degree in food chemistry at the University of California, Davis. She returned to campus on Oct. 25 as part of the Career & Civic Engagement Office’s Alumnae/i in Residence program.
In the below Q&A, Ellie talks about her career, her advice for current students, and more.
How did you get involved in your current field?
As a chemistry major at Bryn Mawr, I preferred theory to lab and interacting with others to independent research. So, I decided to take a bit of a gamble and try graduate studies in food chemistry at UC Davis, where I could apply science to something people need to do everyday—eat! There I discovered sensory science, or understanding how a food appealed (or not!) to the senses, which was the perfect combination of scientific research/design and working directly with people. Over the years, I have worked for several food companies and household brand names, including Campbell Soup, Clorox, and Smucker's, helping drive consumer-relevant product development and marketing strategies. Currently, I am running market research in the retail realm for Petco helping improve and modernize the shopping experience.
What part of your Bryn Mawr experience has been most important to your professional development?
Bryn Mawr helped me find my voice. I came in as a shy freshwoman and left a confident senior who knew she had something important to say to the world.
What career advice do you have for current Bryn Mawr students?
Make a LinkedIn profile—even if you don't have any work experience yet. Put in your TA jobs, internships, or club experience. Put yourself out there and start connecting with fellow students, alums, your friend's parents, etc. Start building a network that will help you as you go out into the world. And don't be afraid to message an alum for advice or job leads—we've been in your shoes and have a shared Mawrter experience.
What made you choose to attend Bryn Mawr?
I chose Bryn Mawr for three reasons: 1) my mom did graduate work there so it was on my wavelength; 2) I knew I wanted to study chemistry and preferred a small school where I wouldn't get lost in the shuffle of huge 101 classes and giant labs; and 3) it had top-rated food and dorms (i.e., quality of life). My visit started with chocolate chip pancakes and I was sold.
The goal of the Alumnae/i in Residence program is for small groups of students to spend time connecting with an alumna/us who returns to the campus for the day. Discussion topics cover a wide variety of areas including graduate programs, the job hunt, work-life balance, and the definition of success. For current list of guests, dates and registration, log into Handshake.