Landing a summer internship or job can be a daunting task, especially with summer now not so far in the future. Luckily, scoring a summer internship in the food industry can be even easier than securing an internship in another field. Still, finding food-related internships may take more research on your part.
Here are some tips to help you with your food-related summer internship/job search.
1. Contact the company/restaurant directly. If you look on craigslist or your college’s career website and search for internships with terms like “cook,” “culinary” or “food,” the results will probably be low, if any. Instead, reach out to where you want to work directly. For this summer, I was interested in some hands-on experience in the kitchen, so I started researching restaurants in San Francisco and New York and emailed the restaurants directly. The response was overwhelmingly positive even though I have close to zero experience in a professional kitchen (Shhhh).
2. Reach out. Almost everyone has worked in the food industry at one point in their career as a waitress, host, cook or busboy before. The chances are you know someone or somebody who knows someone who works with food. Start asking around and see if anyone can hook you up with an internship or job. Another good resource, if your college has it, is the food studies department. Email the professors and see if they can help you out.
3. Think outside the kitchen. There are a myriad of opportunities related to food outside the kitchen if frying burgers and chopping vegetables aren’t your thing. Try contacting catering companies, food stylists, test kitchens, food photographers, food media outlets (television, blogs, magazines), non-profits, farmer’s markets, and farms. Remember that many food related companies and restaurants aren’t specifically looking for an intern, but are open to the possibility if you reach out to them.
4. Think outside the internship. Take food classes. I know my hometown community college offers classes in cheese-making over the summer. Renowned culinary schools such as The French Culinary Institute and Le Cordon Bleu offer specialized amateur classes over a short period of time. If you are interested in farming, or local and sustainable food, I highly recommend WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). I WWOOFed last summer in the Marche region of Italy, and the experience was truly amazing. [Note from the editors: we'll be publishing bi-weekly dispatches from a college student working on a farm all this summer. Stay tuned!]
5. Be innovative. If you still aren’t finding what you are looking for, use the summer to do something on your own. Start your own food blog. Perfect recipes for a cookbook. Review local restaurants. Start a food cart such as the Sexy Soup Lady or the Grilled Cheese Guy. Take up a food justice issue that you care about and campaign for it. Take a food travel tour a lá Anthony Bourdain around your hometown. Start a supper club, or just invite some friends over for dinner.
With these tips, hopefully this summer you can make your cake, and eat it too, instead of doing boring busy work in a stuffy office.