Hi, I wanted to share some thoughts for recent grads that I kind of wish someone had shared with me upon graduating culinary school: 1. It's totally normal to think you know something after graduating school, I mean, isn't that the whole point? And after working hard at culinary school, you do have a lot of skills and knowledge. It's not that you don't know anything, but if you think you know something, it could prevent you from having the open mind to learn more or different things. There are some things that culinary school just can't teach because it only comes with years of practice and experience. And even when you do know something, the fact is that every food service operation has its own unique ways of doing things. Looking back, I realize I thought I already "knew" a lot going into my first restaurant jobs, but that really I know very little, and there's just so much to know and learn. It's not about being hard on yourself, but more about that if you think you know something, it can prevent you from realizing you can always learn more and there is so much to learn, and can prevent you from understanding that every food service operation has its own particular approach. 2. Culinary school doesn't exist to prepare you for employment in food service, and food service operations don't exist to further your learning. You definitely learn a lot of relevant and useful skills and knowledge in culinary school, but the fact is that school has its own imperatives and reasons for existing, and preparing you for employment is not necessarily always one of them. You might have some learning experiences in school that are not applicable to the vast majority of employment opportunities, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. And really, how can school prepare every single person for every single different path in the food world? That would be very difficult. School is school, work is work. Which brings me to the second part of this important point: food service operations operate for their own sake, which is to say their bottom line. They operate for their own reasons, and their demand for labour does not necessarily create the best learning and growth opportunities for workers. The imperative for their bottom line is often to de-skill occupations such that little training is required and low pay can be offered, with easily replaceable labour. What makes sense for the food service operation may be to have you peel carrots for your entire shift, but this is not what necessarily makes sense for your continued learning. Yes you learn a lot on the job, but you probably have to supplement that with your own practice and study if you want to maximize your learning and growth. 3. So now that we've sorted all that out, it comes time to actually get a job. There's lots of opportunities right? Well yes, but you have to take care to find the one that's right for you. There's lots of questions you have to ask yourself and lots of limitations as well, something as simple as if you have to find work within a limited geographic area with limited opportunities. You don't want just any job, you probably want to grow and learn, and probably also care about what you're attaching your name to. You can develop a sort of reputation based on where you have worked. Here's some warning flags, not necessarily "rules" or always true, but more just to keep in mind: -the operation seems to be always hiring, or you have seen the job posting repeatedly; some big operations are "always hiring", but if a place can't find seem to find workers, that would probably indicate a problem with wages and working conditions, or some other issue you would want to stay away from. Yes labour can be in short supply, but there are always lots of people needing work, especially in "low barrier" occupations such as kitchen work, so you really have to ask yourself why an operation can't seem to hold onto workers. -the job interview is really short and they hire you; yes management can be super busy and not have time for lengthy interviews, and sometimes management is very good at hiring based on first impressions or gut reactions, but you really have to question why they are so desperate to find workers (as above) that they're not even that concerned with the job interview. -the operation has high turnover of workers; as above, if you're working somewhere that seems to have people quitting all the time, you have to ask some questions why. -pay attention to some of your first impressions or gut reactions; do the employees and management seem really stressed out or unhappy? Yes kitchen work is high pressure and can be stressful, but don't ignore signs of a really dysfunctional situation. -Just because a food service operation is in business doesn't mean it should be in business; places can look really great but that appearance can hide serious problems. A beautiful and calm dining room can have a terribly dysfunctional kitchen and vice versa, for example. A great looking menu may have serious issues with its execution. I once worked for a guy who sounded like an accomplished chef who was doing interesting things. It quickly became apparent he didn't really know his stuff and was running the restaurant more just for his own ego and for business tax write-off purposes. Not the best situation for me. -Finally, the best piece of advice, if you've made it this far; please don't hesitate to negotiate your wages or working conditions, they will pay you as little as you let them. Value yourself and your labour.