How Important Is a Culinary Internship?
Almost any culinary program offered at a reputable training center has an internship or externship component. These internships allow students to get out of the structured learning environment and right into a working kitchen, with all the hard work and fast-paced requirements that come with it.
It is believed that this combination – formal culinary training techniques and real-world experience – best prepares students for gainful post-graduation employment. The length of your culinary internship will vary depending on where you go to cooking school, but most students can expect to work for around 3 months in an internship position.
In almost all cases, students will work in a day prep cook type position and not receive any pay. This is standard due to the high number of students hoping to land internships at high-ranking restaurants.
While it might seem unfair to work for free, students must realize that they are gaining valuable work experience. Students can also be selective in deciding which internship to take, thereby tailoring their training in a way that boosts their career.
Tips for landing the best internship for you include:
- Choose a restaurant that aligns with your personal goals. Are you planning on cooking Italian food? Do you want to learn more about French techniques? Do you have dreams of running a small, bistro-like restaurant?
- Meet with the existing staff to learn more. Determine if you think you’ll get along with them in the work environment, and ask questions about the learning atmosphere. You might also want to ask them about the likelihood of job opportunities once the internship is over.
- Make sure you’re making your own resume stronger. Whether that means finding a chef you admire to become your mentor, selecting a restaurant known for its incredible cuisine, or adding a new culinary skill to your repertoire, you should always choose an internship that is good for you and good for your future career.
As long as you take your internship seriously and treat it like both the job and learning opportunity it is, you should walk away a better cook and a stronger candidate for employment. If you’re still considering which culinary school to attend, look at area restaurants to see what types of internships will be available when your time comes.