I have been working at a restaurant for 7 months now. I was a member of the opening team and am the lone cook left after the others have been weeded out. A week ago I was promoted to sous chef after the previous one was let go. My patience has finally paid off.
Here's the advice:
when you get hired go balls out. don't hold back. bust your ass and go above and beyond what your job description is. work hard and work clean. don't expect things to be handed to you, especially promotions and raises. absorb as much information as you can and don't be afraid to ask questions. read books about food. educate yourself. if you work for a quality employer, have patience, kick ass and you will eventually be rewarded.
i would love to hear any advice other pro chefs have for the new generation of cooks. we all do the same thing for a living, but we are all from different backgrounds, different cuisines and as many different kinds of restaurants one can think of. with all of that different experience, even the most seasoned of veterans could get something out of this. no matter how trivial it may be.