From baking birthday cakes with her mum to now making sweet treats enjoyed by people across the country, Megan Lory is turning her passion into a career.
When she left Palmerston North Girls’ High School Megan originally planned to study design, which she’d enjoyed as a school subject. She moved down to Wellington to study but found that design as a career wasn’t really for her. Instead, something new beckoned.
“Baking was always a hobby of mine growing up. I did a lot with my mum, especially cakes. Birthday cakes and banana cakes were favourites in our house. I wanted to do something that I loved for a career, so I thought that I should pursue baking,” says Megan.
Wanting to study back in her home town, Megan enrolled in UCOL Manawatū’s
New Zealand Certificate in Baking programme.
“It was great getting to meet new, like-minded people and being able to talk with them about our shared passion.”
The programme gave her plenty of opportunities to learn new recipes and refine her baking processes, and she was fascinated to learn about the origins and history of her favourite foods.
Studying while COVID-19 restrictions were in place during early 2020 was difficult, but Megan says the support she received from her lecturers helped her overcome the challenge.
“My lecturer Mark Smith was so helpful and encouraging when it came to expanding my knowledge. He was really enthusiastic and made learning fun. We studied at home a lot during COVID but there were lots of really good resources on Moodle (our learning system). The lecturers were really supportive and kept us up to date on everything.”
Megan did so well with her studies that she was recognised as being a top student in her class, acknowledging her practical work, theoretical knowledge and attendance.
Not long after finishing her studies, Megan landed a job as a baker at
Goodman Fielder, an international food producer. Megan’s teenage self would be green with envy at how she spends her days – icing slices, dipping eclairs, and baking meringues.
“It’s great being part of a team and baking quality treats that people enjoy every day,” she says.
Megan says there is plenty to learn on the job and credits UCOL for equipping her with the technical skills and knowledge she needed to enter the industry.
“The UCOL facilities were really good for getting used to industrial-type kitchens, as well as the safety processes, hygiene, and cleaning that you need to do in a real kitchen. I start my 10 hour shifts at 4am, so having to get up for classes while it’s still dark helped with that part of the job!”
Megan is pleased with her role at the moment, but she’s also looking to the future. In the long term, Megan would love to run her own bakery or food pop-up.