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Should I take a gap year/how to find apprenticeships?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

I was accepted to the CIA and am currently working to fulfill the 4 months more experience I need. 

After I graduate in June, I REALLY want to travel Europe and maybe even do a stage. My hypothetical plan is to graduate, travel around Europe while doing some kind of work or internship.

Has anyone done anything like this? Is it worth it? 

post #2 of 12

Hey, I DID the exact same thing. I would not trade it for the world!

 

I'm originally from Brooklyn, NY. I graduated from culinary school in San Diego, CA. After I graduated I worked in:

San Francisco, Ca

Manhattan, NY

 

Then went to:

Rome, Italy

Madrid, Spain

 

After that:

Sharm Al Sheik, Egypt

Istanbul, Turkey

Amman, Jordan

 

Next stop:

Morocco, or

Japan.

 

I have had every position you can think of: from dishwasher to actually teaching at a culinary arts school. Here's the thing, I learned a lot....a lot! I don't regret anything, and i'm still on the move! There were some places that I stayed at longer then others. You will feel it. You'll feel when to go and when to stay. The bad thing is the finance. Because at every location you will be put as a prep cook, the salary is going to be a little low. So moving around in the beginning is going to get a little hard until you strengthen your experience and resume.

 

People might say settle down and stick with one job so you can grown and climb that ladder; that's fine if you want to go that route. If you're still young, do it! Travel. Learn. Eat. Cook. Some conservative people might disagree. That's their opinion, I just gave you mine.

 

I hope this helps.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey! Awesome advice, thanks loads.

My counselor suggested I go to CIA for a year and see how I like it...

Travelling and going to the CIA are of equal interest to me and I don't know what to do!

I regret not applying to culinary schools in France because I'm JUST finding new ones that really interest me. 

 

So my main question is...Go to school for a year and see how I like it or take the risk of travelling and try to work in Europe?

Is it still hard to find stages? 

post #4 of 12

Well, in this case, go to school. Here's why:

 

If you were staying in your hometown, you can rely on experience and moving from job to job is easier then moving from country to country....and costs less!! Also, since you're taking a large risk moving to foreign countries and not knowing the lifestyle and language, you will always have your degree to fall back on of it doesn't work. 

 

Having a degree has helped me tremendously because it makes my resume that much stronger, also going through culinary school itself, gives me experience x10 because you get all the basics down as appose to learning them in the real world with people who don't even care about you. At least in school, you cane make all the mistake you want and be guided to working through them. In the real world, if you make a mistake, it costs money and it makes you look bad.

 

I say, if you have the resources to go to school, do it. I did and I don't regret anything. Culinary school is pretty intense and you need to be onto of your game, but you'll always have degree to flash any job in your hometown if Europe fails. 

 

After you graduate, don't make Europe fail!

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

I moved from California to Korea so I'm not going to be back here for a while!  Don't have any issues with American lifestyle. 

If I do end up going to college in the summer, I'll definitely visit Paris for a week or so!

Have you ever done a stage or internship where you lived near a restaurant and worked for basically free?

Trying to get as much aid as possible from CIA, heard it was a rough process. So the people who say a degree is just a stupid piece of paper are BS'ing? I mean, it has to help somehow! 

Thanks.

post #6 of 12

If you were a restaurant owner and two guys are applying for a job. They both have great experience. One has a degree and the other doesn't. Who would you choose to work for you?

 

I have never staged at restaurants before. In the beginning, I would tell them that I wanted to stage and work for free and they would approve. But come time at the end of the month, They would end up paying me because of several reasons: They were once in my shoes, Their morals wouldn't let them "slave drive me", and as chefs we have a tight-knit brotherhood. At least that what how they made me feel.

 

Staging is good though. It is a brilliant way to get into  restaurant, because IF they really do accept you for a stage, at the end of your month or 3 month period, they end up keeping you if they like what they see.

 

Get the degree if you have the money. Or if you can get grants, thats even better. If you're going for student loans, Be careful!!

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Awww...You are offline now! Hahah

My dad is single because my mother passed away, really trying to be frugal about spending money,

How would I go about finding a stage? I don't really have connections in Europe...

So CIA if I can, but staging is really important as well

post #8 of 12

Staging is more important to you than your resume. You can't really brag about staging somewhere and/or put in on your resume. I mean you can, but unless you staged for some heavy hitter chefs and for a long time, then don't really stress staging. 

 

If you want to play it safe, one of the easiest ways to get into another country's culinary industry is through a hotel. You can apply online and hotels hire tons of people all time with high turn over. Start messing around online and checking out some hotels in the country you want to visit. The other way is to do what I do/did: pack a duffle bag and your knife kit, and just go. You'll figure it out when you get there. Once you get there, you start walking the streets and trying to talk to the chefs and hoping they give you a job.

 

I was on the coast and was walking down the beach, I saw a cool italian place and walked in. I saw the owner behind the counter on his stove and started to talk to him. He tried to test me because he told me "I don't know if you can cut it here. I need people that are always ready, all the time!" I walked behind the counter, washed my hands, grabbed some tomatoes and asked him "you need these diced or concasse?" He stared at me for a second, and the rest was history. 

 

Staging is cool, but you want to get a solid job somewhere. A place where you can collect knowledge and a paycheck. Also a place where the chef you're working under and/or learning from really knows what he's doing.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

"If you want to play it safe, one of the easiest ways to get into another country's culinary industry is through a hotel. You can apply online and hotels hire tons of people all time with high turn over. Start messing around online and checking out some hotels in the country you want to visit. The other way is to do what I do/did: pack a duffle bag and your knife kit, and just go. You'll figure it out when you get there. Once you get there, you start walking the streets and trying to talk to the chefs and hoping they give you a job." YEAHHHH!!!

I want to be spontaneous in a good way, like...THAT!

Don't I need a solid resume though? 

So did the Italian job place happen before or after you attended school? 

post #10 of 12

While I was attending culinary school. 

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

I mean I could travel during summer break but I guess I'll play it by ear? I want to take risks that will help me but I'll never know how they turn out so it's just a leap of faith I guess.

An older friend of mine who has also been in the industry and worked under a lot of chefs said to experience the world...I;m talking to her later this week to get some more answers.

post #12 of 12

Nice. Let me know what she says.

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