We all remember and remain inspired by Robert F. Kennedy’s famous words, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” For many considering a new career or changing careers, these words can take on new meaning; they can become a calm but determined mantra.
For if you are thinking about starting a new career, you are taking a huge risk. Simply reading these words is a measure of your bravery, your sense of adventure and your willingness to take charge of your life.
Whether we know it or not, we are all taking risks all the time. Even if we are classified as full-time employees, we are really free-lancers. The axe hangs over our head by a slender thread. The only security we have is our ability to transform our knowledge and experience into stepping stones to the next opportunity.
Rather that thinking about permanence and security, we should all be thinking about — indeed hoping for change. Change is the only constant in the continuum of our life.
If you stop pedaling, you’ll fall off your bike. If you keep going, no matter how slowly, you will eventually arrive at the place where you want to be. If you stand still, there is an illusion you are coasting but in fact, you are falling back.
Like it or not we have to keep making decisions. Should I wear this or that? Should I buy this car or that? Take this apartment or that? Go to this movie or that? Go out. Stay at home. Should the meat be well done, medium or rare? Blue cheese or Thousand Island dressing? Smooth or chunky? Small, medium or large? With or without? On and on goes the list of questions — and answers.
One of biggest difficulties is there are too many choices. It’s a little like thinking you want to write a cookbook on the chicken dishes of the world. If you have such a mad idea you will drown. It’s much easier to settle for the Chicken Dishes of Detroit.
As much as one-third of the culinary student community are career changers in their mid- to late-thirties and older.
They come from all walks of life. They are former airline pilots, lawyers, advertising executives, engineers, scientists nurses and entertainers. They previously worked in offices, schools, hospitals, and even in prisons. Some have served in the military and civil service. Many have already worked in restaurants and decided the in-depth education from a cooking school will advance their career options.
What they all share is a passion for food though not necessarily for cooking.
Once you decide to go to culinary school, you almost immediately have to decide whether to specialize in culinary programs or baking and pastry arts. Be sure to examine the options available at several schools before making the decision to choose one rather than another.
Working in a restaurant, (or owning one), is a dream job for many people but remember that it ranks as being among the most stressful things you can do. It is far more grueling to work in a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday evening than to be a member of the surgical team in a hospital operating room.
The good news is the hospitality industry is the 2nd largest employer nationwide, providing work for over 13 million people. The even better news is: there are literally hundreds of job opportunities available that will enable you to expand your existing life experience and lead you to a brand new career that you may not have known existed.
The bad news is that as you embark on the journey finding a unique food job, there is no map to guide you. No star to point the way. You must create your own true compass.
More good news, there is a job for you. You just have to find it. Look how many different loves we all go through before we find the one true keeper.
And being fired from the first food job is not as important as how you react. The former White House Pastry Chef Thaddeus Dubois one said, I left [the White House] as I arrived: fired with enthusiasm!”
Words from the Wise?
The former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield observed: “There are known knowns, there are things we know we know. There are known unknowns. That is, to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. Things we don’t know we don’t know.” Sometimes that’s what career searching feels like.
Deciding to change your career, or embark on a new venture or just change jobs is a major undertaking. It means thinking ahead and anticipating where you want to be in the short-term. Not the long-term future. Because you will probably change your mind and change jobs several times. Most people do.
Remember: you’re in charge.
You are willing to exchange your time for someone’s money but you are not a prisoner.
You can figure out how to leave a job if you are miserable. Otherwise, you risk being unhappy and becoming a WOMBAT — a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time.
Or, to quote Bobby Kennedy once more, “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”