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50 Minute Classroom: Teaching Students How to Get a Job, Part I of 2

03 June 2012

weinerHere are the first five of 10 critical things you must teach your students if you truly want them to earn gainful employment.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

I am a firm believer that we must not only teach our students technical skills, but we must also teach them jobs skills and life skills. If they can’t get a job, can’t keep a job or can’t manage their lives, then they will be doomed to failure even if they have the cooking skills of Escoffier. This month and next month I am writing about how to teach your students to find a job.

I realize that it might seem an odd time to be publishing this article since for many of you the academic year just ended. However, for most of us, teaching our students how to find a job needs to be worked into our curriculum on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Below are five points to be included in your curriculum. The remaining five will be published next month.

1. Teach your students the art of being interviewed. In February 2011 I wrote an article for “The Gold Medal Classroom” on teaching interview skills to your students to which you can refer: http://www.cafemeetingplace.com/gmc/fifty-minute-classroom/item/443-50-minute-classroom-interview-skills.html.

2. Teach your students that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Many students get frustrated beyond recognition after just one or two rejections. I point out that they will be rejected many times in their lives, and when they get a rejection, they need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. When my students roll their eyes I tell them the story of how (in a much younger life) my roommate and I were applying for jobs after graduation from law school. We got so many rejection letters that we started taping them up on the living room wall, and sound covered the whole wall and part of the hallway.

3. Teach your students how to write a résumé. Once you write a template of what you cover in your class or school then you can give this out and use it again and again. However, take a minute or two to review each student’s résumé. I used to avoid this tedious task until one time a friend called up laughing: It turned out the student used several things from my résumé in hers because she thought they sounded more impressive than what she had to write! Make sure that there is no puffing or lies, and that the format looks good. I tell my students that my résumé is just under two pages; therefore, theirs had better be less than one page. There are more résumé suggestions in the article cited above.

4. Teach your students how to get references. Explain to your students that you (as their teacher) are the first person someone will probably contact, whether or not you are listed as a reference. A number of them will groan with this (particularly the ones with bad attitudes and poor attendance). I tell my students point blank on the first day that the most important person they have to impress in the course is me. After that, I encourage a stagiaire for experience and another reference. Strongly endorse volunteering to get additional references. Explain to your students that chefs tend to be big on donating their time and talent, and will respect local charities and food banks.

5. Teach your students how to handle the ever-growing issue of background checks. The laws vary from state to state, but background checks are more and more a fact of life. For my students who have background issues, I tell them that their backgrounds will be discovered and, thus, they need to be faced head on. I tell them to ask if a background check will be conducted. If they are told “yes,” I instruct them to say: “I want to let you know now that the background check will show _____ in 20__.” I instruct them not to be cute and say things like, “Gee, everyone makes mistakes.” I teach them to be matter-of-fact about it. That way there is no surprise.

Next month’s article will include handling, externships, stagiaires, networking, salesmanship and more.


Chef Adam Weiner, CFSE, teaches a 20-week Introduction to Cooking program for JobTrain on the San Francisco Peninsula.