November 21, 2014

Transitioning From Culinary School To Externship

By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student

After the drama and gut-wrenching stress of culmination, not to mention the fairly regular routine of day-to-day life in the kitchen/classroom, it’s refreshingly unfamiliar to find myself neck deep in my externship.  And while, yes, I have been writing for 303 Magazine since mid-January, the work at my new position at 5280 Magazine is almost completely different.

headshot

First, let me tell you that finding an externship is no walk in the park.  Getting the position at 5280 Magazine took some serious convincing, both on the magazine’s part (they’ve never really taken on a culinary student as an intern before) and on the part of the school’s (I have to do some catering/kitchen work for the magazine in order for my externship to align with federal standards of culinary school externships.)

Way back in my first ever blog entry for the school, I talked about how the school is startlingly flexible when it comes to meeting your needs and helping you achieve your own personal goals, and that hasn’t changed.  But Uncle Sam and the folks at the DoE have standards that have to be met in order for Escoffier’s accreditation to remain valid, so if you have an unusual dream that is connected to the culinary world, be ready to go above and beyond.

Getting back to my original point, my new job is physically much less stressful than my time in the kitchen.  My day officially starts at 9:00am, though I’m usually about twenty minutes early because the Navy and Escoffier have that “ten minutes early is five minutes late” rule fairly well ingrained in me by now.

Then I pretty much I sit at my desk and do desk work for thirty hours a week.  I research other people’s work to ensure it is all factually correct.  I write work of my own.  I research new and exciting things going on in the culinary industry.  I read back issues of the magazine to familiarize myself with its style and tone.  Occasionally, I go out and interview people for the magazine.  And when I’m really lucky, I get to go out as a critic and sample a restaurant’s offerings.  My feet are a lot more friendly at the end of the day, I have a lot more energy and have started hitting the gym on a semi-regular basis.  I’m eating healthier and losing weight.  It’s been good (for the week and a half I’ve been here).

That being said, it is emotionally and mentally a lot more taxing than kitchen time, for me at least.  There’s something immensely stressful about writing for a magazine with this much exposure.  This isn’t to say that writing for 303 Magazine wasn’t stressful, but having this many eyes on my words is a great source of anxiety for me.

And while I have a great deal of experience pressing the buttons to make the words into sentences, I’m finding that my experience in journalism is fairly lacking, and I’m sprinting to catch up.  For example, you’ll notice that I’ve been putting a “double space” at the end of each sentence in this entry.  Turns out that’s a big no-no in the world of journalism, because those extra spaces add up on the page, wasting valuable real estate for a print magazine.  Who knew?  So I’m breaking old habits and developing new ones.

interview

On the plus side, Mary Clare and Amanda (my supervisors) have been great about showing me the ropes.  Their patience as I learn their methods is laudable, and I try to keep up as best I can (taking notes, doing research, googling the list of journalism words I don’t know) but it’s not easy.  I really appreciate the work they’re putting into me.

In addition to that, they are quick to give praise (when it’s deserved).  Most supervisors I’ve had in the past were quick to correct me when I screwed up but were pretty stingy with the praise, leaving me cringing in anxiety as I waited for the hammer to fall.  That’s now how things are done here (so far, anyway), and that’s a huge relief.

I’m only in week two, so it’s hard to gauge exactly how well I’m doing.  But I have a good feeling about my work here.  My co-workers are friendly and accepting, I’m learning a ton, and I feel like I finally have a foothold on a career many told me was only a pipedream two years ago.  I guess my point is, don’t be afraid of your externship.  It’s a new experience, and that can’t be stressful, but if you’re going after something you love, it’s worth every stomach ache.