A friend and I were having an argument about something that I was having a difficult time finding an answer to on the internet. He said that its fairly common for people, after graduating culinary school to go and work for free in a restaurant to gain experience. I cant imagine someone already in debt from culinary school, going and working for free for a year. Are you guys just super budgeters? or is this a false lie my friend heard somewhere?
There is some validity to your friend's statement. Many people will work for a while during a stage. During this time, the student will gain experience and learn some of the nuance of working within the confines of a professional kitchen. School can be a very rewarding and useful experience, while on-the-job training is a necessary aspect of learning the trade, as well. Many students will complete an internship while still enrolled in school to gain that experience and keep insulated from 'real world' expenses and working for free. Hope this helps!
I'd be hesitant to work for "free" for very long in any industry, unless it truly is giving you experience that you've never had before. But many people who go to culinary school do have real-world experience in the restaurant industry. Make sure that the restaurant isn't taking advantage of your labor; by law a business cannot benefit from having an unpaid intern. Just for reference, here are the six requirements for an internship to be legal (from the Labor dept.)