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New to the Pastry Field!


paynes1
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Hello everyone,

I am a culinary student in the DC metropolitan area and I am having a difficult time finding an internship. I have applied for paid positions all over the US and have yet to find success. It seems as though in addition to the experience that I lack, the school that I attend or my previous work experience and salary history make it difficult for anyone to believe that I really want to work. There are even some places that request graduates or students from certain schools. I do not have the money to begin a new program especially when I am one semester away from finishing the one that I am in now.

I have spoken to several students from other pastry programs and it is true that some of the things that they have learned I have not been exposed to. I would like to use 2 books one for reference and the other for recipes and make everything in the book. Anyone have suggestions on the books/videos I should use? Anyone now of any short classes that would help with the skills....Wilton was suggested. Drawing and design classes were also suggested. Anyone have any thoughts?

What characteristics and knowledge are you all looking for when you hire a student?

Any other suggestions that may help me will be appreciated.

Edited by paynes1 (log)
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maybe you should consider applying for an unpaid internship. the combined lack of experience, your previous salary history (which you shouldn't really have on your resume anyway), and possibly your education or lack thereof makes you a little unattractive to potential employers.

if you can't afford a completely unpaid internship, you should consider a part time one so that you can work at a paying job on the side...that is, if you're willing to "do the time".

may i also ask if you had been forewarned about any of this before you began your culinary courses? did you have a clear idea of what was in store for you after you graduated?

i think it is likely that if you do an unpaid internship and prove your worth as a hardworking employee, the employer would consider you for a paid position at the restaurant or bakery or wherever you are working.

working in a food service establishment is not easy. it is even more difficult when you have a lot of work to get done and you're doing double duty as a teacher to someone who isn't up to speed on everything. most chefs aren't willing to spend actual money on these people as their time is worth more than the wage they would pay you.

please take some time to give us a little more background so that others can respond with some helpful information.

p.s. welcome to eGullet and good luck!

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I would try to go on informational interviews at local places that you know and respect. Perhaps the top-notch places aren't for you, but you could try looking one or two steps down. Call restaurants, stop by, be persistent, and get to know people. To be quite honest, knowing someone influential or well-known in the area to put in a call for you might at least convince a chef to spend some time talking to you.

Also, offer to work for free. If you're persistent enough you're probably going to find something.

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Welcome to The eGullet Society For Arts & Letters Paynes1!

I feel for you. It's hard for people who aren't just getting started, too. As far as I'm concerned I think it's very narrow/closed minded for any job to only seek people coming from a couple specific schools. Some of our best chefs didn't come from formal culinary backgrounds.

First, what aspect of the pastry arts are you interested in? For example, are you looking to do cake decorating? If so, yes you need some skill to obtain a job doing that. We can give you some specific advice on what you need to learn to obtain a job doing that. Or are you interested in making desserts? You don't have to have serious cake decorating skills for that........ But almost every aspect of the pastry arts relate to understanding design so some artistic knowledge is helpful/important.

So can you tell us what specificly interested you to the pastry arts? ...what do you find alot of interest in doing, in the pastry field?

Do you have any idea what beginning pay is in this field?.........so your not asking for a rediculous amount. And to break into a field you should take whats offered, pretty much just to get your feet wet, get something on your resume.

Last, I think the best thing you can do is read all you can on your new career. There are tons of fantastic information posted here at eG everyday. Read thru our previous threads........absorb all that you can.

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maybe you should consider applying for an unpaid internship.  the combined lack of experience, your previous salary history (which you shouldn't really have on your resume anyway), and possibly your education or lack thereof makes you a little unattractive to potential employers.

if you can't afford a completely unpaid internship, you should consider a part time one so that you can work at a paying job on the side...that is, if you're willing to "do the time".

may i also ask if you had been forewarned about any of this before you began your culinary courses?  did you have a clear idea of what was in store for you after you graduated?

i think it is likely that if you do an unpaid internship and prove your worth as a hardworking employee, the employer would consider you for a paid position at the restaurant or bakery or wherever you are working.

working in a food service establishment is not easy.  it is even more difficult when you have a lot of work to get done and you're doing double duty as a teacher to someone who isn't up to speed on everything.  most chefs aren't willing to spend actual money on these people as their time is worth more than the wage they would pay you.

please take some time to give us a little more background so that others can respond with some helpful information.

p.s. welcome to eGullet and good luck!

Alanamoana

The salary issue came up when I applied for positions in Las Vegas, you MUST include your salary. I tried not to several times and was told that I must include a number. I was accepted for a helper position out there and before my start date and after I had relocated I received an anonymous letter (no department admitted sending it) on company stationary that stated the position was given to someone with more experience. :unsure: I am able to afford an unpaid internship and again finding someplace to go is the issue. I had NO IDEA that it would be this difficult and I wish someone had told me as I did the research. Thanks for your help

Edited by paynes1 (log)
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Welcome to The eGullet Society For Arts & Letters Paynes1!

Wendy,

Thanks for the reply. I know what to expect as far as salary but I did not know that jobs are given and taken at will. I am interested in making desserts but some piping skills are required. I figure while I am still searching for a position I can starting working on some basic skills at home, thus the books for reference and recipes and classes

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Basic skills I think are important but are surprisingly hard to find with new people.

Make an anglaise sauce. Know a basic version, that you can tweak, off the top of your head - sauces, ice cream - it's essential. Make pastry cream. Choux paste as well. Make cream puffs and eclairs and eat them! Good piping practice.

Boil some sugar and make some caramel. Don't be scared of hot things. Learn to temper chocolate.

Know how to whip cream and eggs. When to add sugar. Volume, ribbons and peaks. Try doing it by hand to get your "pastry guns" strong. Sharp knives and how to break down fruit. Buy some and cut it up. Apples, pears, peaches, oranges. dice some stuff. make some matchsticks. supreme cuts. Peel things very fast and clean.

From there you can just about go anywhere. Common sense and confidence in using it. Ask questions, but try not to ask more than once. As long as you can follow recipes and know some basic techniques it isn't that hard. Never sweat mistakes - they happen a lot no matter how long you've been doing this. Learn from them and don't do it again.

Above all else, just shut up and do it.

Devin

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Above all else, just shut up and do it.

Devin

Great advice to top off all the others! :biggrin: I'm also considering, actually begging my Dad, to study a culinary course after I get my degree in March. But he wants me to just apply for a job and learn stuff from there, as I self-studied my way to baking.

So I guess since I'm not sure I'll be getting into a culinary school anytime soon, I also am going to practice my "guns." :laugh: Will tack your advice up on my mental corkboard.

I am in the process of fulfilling a dream, one that involves a huge stainless kitchen, heavenly desserts and lots of happy sweet-toothed people.
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I have always been open to hiring a new to the pastry business person. I actually prefer someone not to have too much experience, because I can more easily teach them what I want instead of the continual "we used to do it this way" It's hard to break old habits and I'd rather not have to.

I think if you go to apply or to interviews with a positive attitude about working and what you do know about pastry you will make a good impression.

Try asking at your school for sources for a job. They usually have contacts with local chefs who may be looking for someone just like you. Good luck in your search and in the meantime learn all you can, from school and on your own.

When I first started in pastry I got the list that they used at the Culinary Federation to certify a pastry chef and I made sure I knew all the things on it. Such as all the types of doughs, creams, confections, cakes etc. It gave me a real good footing to build on.

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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