Starting out as a chef is not easy and a culinary internship is often suggested as a way to get a foot in the door. The idea behind the internship is to get a basic understanding of what is involved in full time cheffing, as well as picking up valuable experience along the way.
The pros of culinary internships
- Learning from the best
An internship offers the opportunity to be exposed to world-renowned chefs, whether you’re looking to learn from masters of the classics or innovative new minds.
- The opportunity to travel
Internship programmes often recruit from overseas, understanding that the prospect of picking up a new language while immersing yourself in a new culture is very appealing for an aspiring chef. Whether you’re looking to intern in the kitchens of Paris, the restaurants of New York or the works of Beijing, the world truly is your oyster with an internship opportunity.
- Your CV will start to shine
The cheffing CV revolves around demonstrable experience, rather than qualifications, and if you’re just starting out then you may not yet have much of that to offer. Culinary internships provide the opportunity to start building a CV that shows both experience and depth. Plus, a notable chef’s name on your CV can work wonders for your future job prospects!
- You will meet some inspirational leaders
There are some incredibly skilled people at the top of the culinary profession and being around them can be very motivational. An internship is a fast track to seeing these great minds at work in their own environments, which may in turn inspire the rest of your career.
- Networking opportunities
Like any other profession, networking plays a key role in getting ahead as a chef. Those you meet and impress while you’re working as an intern can help boost you to the next level of your career further down the line, whether that’s via a permanent job or a recommendation.
- You’re ahead of the competition
Working in a kitchen as an intern gives the rest of the team some insight into what you might be like as a permanent member of staff – do a good job and you’re more likely to be selected over another applicant without the intern experience.
The cons of culinary internships:
- It’s hard work
You can expect long hours, the toughest jobs and plenty of challenges that are designed to test not just your skills but your resilience too. It’s a sharp learning curve and you should be mentally prepared for plenty of hard work and challenging tasks.
- There’s no guarantee of a job
No internship comes with the guarantee of a job at the end of it and for some this can feel like a lot of hard work that has come to nothing. It’s key to remember that the value of the internship is not just the potential it has but the experience itself.
Culinary internships offer a great opportunity to break into the professional chef circuit, as well as the chance to get real insight into this fast moving world and to make important connections for the future.
For most, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. If you’re driven, determined and passionate about your future career as a chef, you should strongly consider an internship.