Restaurant Internships: Students working towards a culinary qualification or other qualifications in the hospitality field such as Food and Beverage Management or Hospitality Management are often required to gain practical experience through completing an internship. Restaurant internships are programs of supervised work experience designed to expand your career knowledge. Internships are available in all kinds of restaurants ranging from fine dining restaurants to restaurants in resort areas to local cafeterias.
Academic credit can be earned for a successful internship. Internships can last from a few weeks to six months but many schools require that their students complete a minimum number of hours. Many interns are paid an hourly rate while others are unpaid positions. However, restaurant interns may receive other benefits such as meals or even on-site accommodation being provided. Because of seasonal variations within the hospitality industry, restaurant internships may be more easily obtained in busier holiday periods.
The hands-on experience gained during a restaurant internship will make you more attractive to future employers and can help you to make more informed decisions about the career path you choose following graduation. Internships also provide valuable networking opportunities that may lead to future full-time employment. Many companies choose to employ former interns on graduation as they have already proven their abilities and the learning curve is shorter.
What does a restaurant internship entail?
Many restaurant interns work as sous chefs in the restaurant kitchen. Sous chefs are also known as prep chefs and you will have the opportunity to work at different stations within the kitchen. Duties can include chopping vegetables, rolling dough for pastry, preparation of sauces or slicing meat among others. Some restaurants may allow you to prepare entrees for customers. You will learn how a good chef manages a kitchen and how to effectively interact with the other employees. You will also be trained on food safety and how to clean workstations correctly as you work. Restaurant kitchens are fast-paced environments and you will learn how to prepare food quickly and to work under pressure.
Students of Food and Beverage Management may be involved in stock-taking, storage and purchasing. They may also help in costing recipes and menus with a view to keeping purchasing costs as low as possible. Some restaurants also offer restaurant management internships that will allow interns exposure to management responsibilities in both front of house and kitchen as well as the administrative aspects of running a restaurant. Restaurant interns may also work in the front of house as wait staff, host staff or bartenders.
How do I find a restaurant internship?
Competition for internships with leading restaurants is often intense, particularly if the internship is a paid one. You should forward your resume with a cover letter to the restaurants you would like to work for, ensuring that you do not miss the deadline for submission of applications. You may also be required to provide letters of reference. Alternatively, you could call in person and ask to speak to the head chef or the food and beverage manager. Your school may have information on restaurants that regularly offer internships and may help to find the best placement for you.
What skills do you need to win a restaurant internship?
Restaurant interns need to impress potential employers by displaying enthusiasm for the industry and a willingness to work hard, even at very basic tasks. You will need to show that you can take direction and be a team player. You need to be well presented, particularly if you will be working directly with the customers. Excellent communication skills are essential when working in a kitchen environment. If you are hoping to intern as a sous chef, you should show a flair for cooking and an interest in how menus are assembled and prepared.
Below is a list of some of the various types of internships.