Culinary School Internships: How to Leverage a Culinary Degree outside of the Kitchen

Many culinary students make the mistake of assuming that their classes will teach them everything they need to know to get a great job as soon as they finish their coursework. But a culinary degree resembles any other type of degree in one very important way-it must be supplemented with experience outside of the classroom to be tempting to potential employers. The best way to handle this is to take care of it while you’re still in school, through a job or internship in a kitchen. That way, once you have your degree, you can hit the ground running! 

Where to start 
If you’re relatively advanced in your culinary studies, you already know what kind of kitchen you want to be working in. Ask your Chef for advice on restaurants to approach for potential internships and jobs. She or he may have connections in just the right place, but you won’t know unless you ask. Don’t ignore other connections, either. Be sure you tell friends and neighbors that you’re in culinary school. Usually if they know someone in the industry, they won’t be afraid to pipe up, and you shouldn’t be afraid to get more information out of them. The best jobs are all about connections, and you should use yours to its fullest extent! 

What to look for 
If you’re just starting your work in culinary school, now is a good time to try out different types of restaurants to help you pick a concentration. If you’re really going to go for it, you should let the owners and chefs know of your intentions. If you want to devote yourself to one restaurant for the long run, tell them! Many places look for someone who is willing to make a commitment. But above all, remember this: This job is supposed to be a learning experience. You can learn a lot through observation, but you’ll learn a lot more if the chef is willing to show you the ropes. Make sure you’re securing a good on the job instructor! 

How to sell yourself 
If this is your first restaurant job, your resume is probably pretty short. But that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Put past jobs on your resume, and be ready to tell your interviewer how they are pertinent. In what job did you learn to take instruction? What job taught you about what it means to make decisions? Don’t be afraid to flaunt your skills, and what you’ve learned in culinary school. But remember, you’re there to learn, not to show off.