extern at the Ritzhey
when I was a student at the CIA I completed a 6 month externship with the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, FL. (5 star/5 diamond) I was a baking and pastry student and as such, worked in the pastry dept at the hotel. I absolutely loved the entire experience. I think the reason I liked it so much was becasue of the extreme professionalism at the resort in all departments and the structure that was provided for me. My externship was a required semester for school so I had weekly assignments to complete and was greaded on my performance, but this particular Ritz property also had a very structured program for externs and international students. They were great about rotating students through different positions/stations and, for the culinary students, through different kitchens as well. They understood that we were students who needed direction and encouraged us to ask questions, learn from our mistakes, talk to our supervisors about anything and everything. Yes, I was a student, but I was treated just like every other Ritz employee (although the pay was a little less). Of course, as with any opportunity, you will only get out of it as much as you put in. I noticed that the students that didnt show much enthusiasm, didnt take the time to talk to the chefs, didnt ask for more responsibility/opportunities at work didn't get as much out of the experience and were given less attention from supervisors and I'm sure their grades were affected accordingly.
The Ritz also isnt the right place for everyone. I love the super professional atmosphere: completely spotless chef whites (checks, coat, black socks, black shoes, neckerchief, toque, name tag, thermometer, 1 ritz carlton pen, one side towel neatly folded), "yes" chef, hello/goodbye to everyone in the kitchen at each shift change, daily line-ups, respect for everyone, the whole nine yards. This might sound restricting to some, but I think that for a student, this is the perfect setting to learn in. Yes, I admit that I was brainwashed into the Ritz Carlton culture. I still have the credo memorized, every now and then "my pleasure" slips out when someone asks me a favor, but I would rather be overly professional than to have spent six months working for a chef who is aware that kids are showing up to work drunk/high and then have them make pastry cream from an instant powder.
just a personal opinion though. :o)