If you are thinking about culinary school or currently attending, one of the best opportunities you can take advantage of is the apprenticeship. Most culinary schools offer an apprenticeship program, where you are given the opportunity to work at the school’s on-site restaurant and/or bakery, or at an off-site restaurant, bakery or hotel where they have an established partnership.
If your culinary school does not offer an apprenticeship program, research companies who would be willing to provide you with an entry-level opportunity and be willing to train you. It’s essential to put the theory knowledge that you’ve gained at school into practical experience in a restaurant, bakery or hotel environment.
Assuming that you’ve obtained an apprenticeship opportunity, here are 5 tips to ensure a successful experience.
Keep in mind that the purpose of the apprenticeship is to learn, while also contributing to the best of your ability. Check your ego at the door and come prepared with an open mind and an eager heart. Pay attention when the chef is teaching you something, and learn from your co-workers as well. Don’t come with an attitude thinking that you already know everything, as most of your co-workers will likely have much more experience than you.
Learn as much as you can
Be a sponge. Ask the chef if it’s okay to bring a small notepad & pen so you can take notes as you’re learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be sure to remember the answers when the chef provides them to you. The last thing a chef wants to do is to repeat the information numerous times. This is where your notepad will come in handy. In addition, you will be asked to do a lot of repetitive work. This will help you build muscle memory. Don’t view it as a boring task, but rather as an opportunity to perfect a certain skill.
Treat it like a real job
Apprenticeships can last several months or longer. Some apprenticeships are paid, while others are not. Treat the apprenticeship like a real job regardless of whether you’re being paid or not. Practice good habits early on, such as being punctual, proactive and willing to learn. These characteristics will set you up for future success in your culinary career. If you do a good job during your apprenticeship, they will remember your strong work ethic, which may land you a future job opportunity there after you graduate.
Go the extra mile
Going the extra mile means being proactive. Rather than stand around and wait for someone to tell you what to do, ask them what they need help with. Volunteer to do things that will give you exposure to learn as much as you possibly can. Take advantage of every single minute of your apprenticeship, knowing that you’re being given the opportunity to learn while you’re there.
Building relationships in the industry is critical. It’s not always about what you know, but WHO you know. Find mentors who you can learn from, and leave a good impression. You never know where they may end up, or when they can be a resource for you. When you complete your apprenticeship, ask the chef or your supervisor if you can list them as a reference after you graduate from culinary school. Be sure to include your apprenticeship experience on your resume, as every bit of experience helps.
For additional job tips, check out our Job Seeker Resources page.