How To Network Like A Pro In Culinary School | Dorsey Culinary Academy, MI
By Chef Ryan Parker, Dorsey Culinary Academy – Roseville, MI campus
One of the most exciting parts of culinary school is the opportunity to work with great organizations after graduation.
Why wait until your last few weeks to start exploring opportunities. Today we are going to share with you how to “network like a pro” so you can get a head start on finding a job you can be excited about as you are making your way through culinary school
The first step in networking like a pro is to go where your target job prospects are. Professional organizations hold monthly meetings for training, networking and idea sharing among colleagues. A local chapter of the American Culinary Federation is a great place to start meeting more people who can help guide your career. In Michigan, the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association gathers each month to discuss culinary news, introduce new training, and (just as importantly) develop relationships that grow the Michigan culinary scene.
Contact your local ACF chapter to find out when their next meeting is, and if you can come as a guest before joining the organization. Most professional organizations like the Michigan Chef de Cuisine Association will have a student discount on the membership and allow students to attend meetings for a small fee.
Regularly attending professional meetings will allow you to make connections far beyond culinary school alone.
After arriving at the meeting make it your number one goal to introduce yourself to three new people. At this point, prioritize getting to know more about them. Remember, most people like to talk about themselves so ask great questions.
If you feel you have made a great connection with a Chef, or owner, ask them a few simple, but engaging questions for future employment.
- “How does a culinary student get a job with a business similar to yours?”
This question allows them to speak freely about the process of getting a job without the concern of discussing their particular business. Take note of the person’s response and listen for the main phrases which come up in the conversation. You may hear words like: “trial period,” “working interview,” or “portfolio.” Do not be scared off by these terms. A “trial period” or “working interview” is a short period where a new employee will come into the business and work. A working interview creates the opportunity to discover if the business is a good match for you, and for them.
- “What qualities in a cook do you look for when hiring new people?”
Here is where you really want to pay attention. Their answer to this question will give you the keys to the castle. Listen, really listen, for their answer so you know what to develop while in culinary school. The Chef may tell you they really need someone who can think on their feet, solve problems, or they may just tell you they are looking for someone with solid fundamentals in the kitchen so they can train them well.
Regularly attending professional meetings will allow you to make connections far beyond culinary school alone. Take advantage of them.
Become savvy about social media:
In today’s world, most everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat account. Be savvy about your online image. Take a few moments when you start getting serious about your career to clean up your profile wherever a future employer can see them.
According to careerbuilder.com’s annual survey, 60% of companies use social media to research potential employees.
Now that you have your profiles all cleaned up, it is time to use these tools to get noticed by people in your industry. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have fantastic search functionality built right into the network.
Use these tools to your advantage.
Search for the keywords Chef or Restaurant and combine the phrases in the search field to include your local area. “Chef Michigan” or “Chef Detroit” will return results, which will help you locate people, groups, or pages that are relevant to your job search.
On Facebook, the Detroit Area Chefs group page is always bustling with Chefs asking for qualified employees and share information. Take time to introduce yourself to the groups you join. Contribute to meaningful conversations with people, so they get to know you.
Fill your social media streams with articles you have read about the culinary world. Showcase pictures of work you have done in the kitchen, whether you cooked the food at home, or in a professional kitchen. Employers want to be able to see the skills you are developing in the kitchen.
These two strategies will get you well on your way to find opportunities in the culinary field.