Cooking Up Careers in Culinary School

Michelle Grossman | September 23, 2013

Culinary schoolNo matter what college or career training program you attend, it’s wise to introduce yourself to those in your college’s Career Services office. From resume help to internship and job hook-ups, as a student or alumni, you should take advantage of the career resources and support provided.

We caught up with The Culinary Institute of America in New York to get a taste of its career services menu…

Q: What interesting career services are offered at The Culinary Institute of America?

A: The Office of Career Services (OCS) at CIA is a bit unique in that we meet with every student. Our associate degree students complete a required externship, and OCS prepares, orients, and guides the students through the process of searching for and applying for one.

We provide our students with four career fairs each year. These fairs attract top names in the hospitality industry: The Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group, Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, Disney, Nestle, and many others. We also host on-campus recruiting events throughout the year and receive more than 400 job postings specifically targeting our students and graduates (no third party posts here!). Employers want to hire our students and graduates, and we put these opportunities right in our students’ hands.

Q: What’s the best way for students to take advantage of career services while in school?

A: Start early! Our students are assigned a Career Services Adviser whom they meet on their second day on campus.  The students who choose to actively engage with their adviser will benefit the most from this valuable resource.  Students should take every opportunity to meet with the copious amounts of employers who visit the campus, and work with their adviser to prepare for these visits.

Q: How does career services work with students to help them land internships as well as full-time positions?

A: For the required externship, our advisers have three required preparation sessions with the students.  We orient them to the course and process of externship, provide general information on career planning, resume creation, interviewing best practices, etc.  Most importantly, we schedule one-on-one meetings with the students at the end of the general group meetings.

For post-extern students, our advisors primarily work with students individually.

Q: What services are available to help The Culinary Institute of America Alumni in their job search as well?

A: We provide free, life-long career services assistance to our graduates. We work closely with our Alumni Department to offer our services and to create connections between alumni and current students. Alumni have access to all of the resources our current students have.

Katie Robaczewski, a recent graduate from The Culinary Institute of America, is currently a Manager in Training (MIT) with the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, the same company she initially interviewed with during an On-Campus Recruiting visit. Here’s what she had to say on how Career Services benefited her…

Q: In your own personal experience, how did your school’s career services hook you up?

A: Career services and career fair has been an excellent outlet for my colleagues and I to connect to professionals in the industry. Most everyone I have known has gotten a job through career fair as long as they exemplify professionalism and passion. The Culinary Institute career fair is an excellent snapshot of our industry.

Q: How has your school’s career services helped you land the job you have today?

A: I started meeting with career services in December to get my resume and cover letter together.  I am the “planner” type, so having everything ready before my May graduation was a must. Four Seasons comes separately from career fair twice a year and I knew I had to be ready for them. I set up a few “mock” interviews in Career Services that really helped shake my nerves. I was sharing with one of my professors who is my mentor and who had worked for the company about my experience so far. She still knew individuals in the industry and said she would like to help. A week later I received a call from the assistant director at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire. A MIT position had opened up and I was to start on May 28th, only six days after I graduated school.

Q: Do you think you’d still be where you are today without the help of career services?

A: Career Services definitely helped me to achieve and get me to where I am now. They were able to help me strategize and give me the confidence I needed to push through the interview process.

Q: Why do you think utilizing career services is important while still in school?

A: I think it is important to use the resources that the school gives you. Speaking with the members of the Career Service team could lead students to jobs they did not know existed. They are so knowledgeable of our industry and what it has to offer.

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