It’s been said that you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience unless you have a job. So, what do you do about this? Take an internship! This is even true about culinary internships.
Benefits of an Internship
You’re probably wondering how culinary internships can get you a job. Well, to begin with, as a culinary intern you’ll learn many new techniques for cooking and baking in the “real” world (outside the classroom). You’ll also learn speed, organization, time management, and perfect your knife skills while working on the line during service.
Regardless of what path you see your culinary career taking, your internship time spent in a professional kitchen is invaluable to your career. For instance, personal chefs must understand how to set up a kitchen, private chefs must learn how to act quickly, and a test kitchen chef must learn to think on their feet while creating recipes.
Sometimes accepting an unpaid internship and working at another job while interning pays off with bigger returns than if you’d accepted a paid internship.
Considerations When Pursuing an Internship
Having some idea of where you want to see your career go is the first step, and a very important one, in deciding where you should seek out an internship. It’s also important to think about what city you want to spend most of your life living in. While moving to a big city for an internship is fun, moving away from there afterwards may prove difficult.
This is because one of the main points of doing an internship is creating contacts and networking. If you do this someplace, you may find they don’t have contacts available in the city you actually want to live in. Simply put, good local references are more beneficial than all your great skills and techniques combined.
When interning in a small, chef-driven place you get to work directly with the chefs and line cooks.
Another important consideration is the environment you wish to do your internship in. When interning in a small, chef-driven place you get to work directly with the chefs and line cooks. This doesn’t always happen in big restaurants, where it’s easier to ignore you.
It’s also important for you to consider whether you can afford to take an unpaid internship. Sometimes accepting an unpaid internship and working at another job while interning pays off with bigger returns than if you’d accepted a paid internship. If you feel as though you can keep up with everything, then you’ll look as though you’re truly dedicated to your profession. Of course, only you can decide this.
One other thing you’ll want to do before choosing where you’ll do your internship is to actually spend time reading about the restaurant. You not only want to lookout for what employees are saying about the restaurant and its work environment, you also want to learn what diners are saying about the food, service, atmosphere, and chef.
Working every station looks good to potential employees as they recognize you have basic experience in various areas of the kitchen.
Getting the Most out of Your Internship
In the same way you must take some time to consider whether the internship is right for you, it’s also important to stay on your feet while working an internship. This is a time during which you can do some really great networking. Get to know the line cooks, servers, and other restaurant staff. They’re all an important part of the team when you’re working in a kitchen as a chef.
Some people sincerely believe small, successful restaurants are where you’ll find the best internships because you’re expected to actually do some work. In fact, by the end of your time there, you’ll probably have worked every station. This looks good to potential employees as they recognize you have basic experience in various areas of the kitchen.
Remember, you don’t want to take an internship at a big restaurant just so you can have its name on your résumé. Make sure it sounds as though it will meet your expectations. Instead, accept an internship at a restaurant where you think you’ll be happy (you never know until you start working there). It should also be a place that challenges you so you have a great opportunity to build your skills.
You might also like…
Founded in 1978, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse is an award-winning company with an "of service" culture, anchored by solid hospitality and guided by a compass of quality. The BJ's experience offers high-quality...
A cover letter doesn’t have to be a stressful task. Just follow the standard formula for a clear and professional letter.
Knowing how to handle difficult FOH situations will help you stand out for your boss and further you in your restaurant career. Follow these tips to really impress with your people skills!