Friday, June 5, 2015

Saying Goodbye to The CIA, and Hello to Externship: Interview With Kaitlyn Algarin


Today I was able to interview a great friend of mine right before she leaves for externship. Now some of you might not know what an externship is and that's okay, because by the end of this blog you'll know what it is and some key tips to making your externship experience one you'll never forget. Kaitlyn Algarin is a student here at The Culinary Institute of America at our Hyde Park campus. She is currently enrolled in the Associate Degree for Baking and Pastry Arts and will leave for Externship next week. Kaitlyn has come a long way since she started the CIA on November 10th, 2014. She has had to make it through the 15 week fundamentals class, Cafe Savory, Principles of Design, Basic and Classical Cakes, Individual and Production Pastries, and Hearth breads. The first year at the CIA is an eye opening experience because it’s the first time you step into a CIA kitchen and learn how we operate here. I imagine if someone asked Kaitlyn or any other CIA student they would say their first year here at The Culinary Institute of America has been passionate, exhilarating and the most fun they have ever had.

Kaitlyn & Chef Adams

I started my interview with asking Kaitlyn "Why did you choose The Culinary Institute of America?" and she said "it was an easy decision, it was closer to home which I like because I am really close to my family, the CIA has an amazing reputation for producing well trained chefs, and because all my Chefs from vocational school graduated from the CIA". The CIA has set a standard for the quality of chefs it produces, the employers out in the industry know when they hire a CIA grad or extern; The Culinary Institute of America has trained their students with the right techniques and skills to succeed out in the industry.

Black Forest Cake 

"What is the name of your Externship?" I asked, and Kaitlyn responded "I am doing my externship at the Crystal SpringsResort & Spa in Vernon, New Jersey". I Googled the name of her externship so I could have a better understand of where she would be working and I was blown away by the pictures they have on the front page. The Crystal Springs Resort & Spa is located in the rolling green farm land on the North West side of New Jersey. The 4,000 acre Resort is a vacation getaway for all ages. The Spa is ranked in the top 100 Spa's in the United States and has won several awards for best spa in the state of New Jersey. Since we were on the topic of externship, I asked kaitlyn "why did you choose Crystal Springs Resort & Spa as your externship?" and she replied "they are really focused and driven on farm to table, everything they serve there is fresh and made with simple ingredients and because its only 45 minutes away from home, which my mom loves because we are really close". When making decisions about externship, it’s great to get a Chef's opinion because there is a pretty good chance they know the company and how they operate things. Take this opportunity that the school is giving you to broaden your horizons and step out of your comfort zone. The CIA will let you go almost anywhere in the World, take advantage of that and choose your externship wisely.

Crystal Springs Resort & Spa

I continued my interview with baking student Kaitlyn Algarin by asking her "What will be some daily task for you as an extern?" and she already had an answer ready "I will be making pastries and desserts for the three restaurants on the property and will be making fresh gelato daily for the outdoor bar next to the pool". As an extern it really all depends on how much you want to get out of the experience, I have heard of people saying all they did was scoop cookie dough for five months, and then I have heard people getting to decorate wedding cakes for five months; you'll get as much out of it as you put into the experience. A good idea is to ask the externship site what some of the daily task are for an externship at your company. Ask as many questions as you want, so you know what will be expected and if it will be a good fit for you.

Lemon Curd Tart

Throughout the interview, I asked Kaitlyn "How did you find your externship?" and she answered "My mom, she began looking at places and suggested this beautiful resort to me not only because she knew it was a perfect fit for what I want to do but also because it was close to home and she loves when I am home". As a student at the CIA, you are given freedom to extern anywhere around the World, some people choose to extern at home to be with their family and to save money, others decided to move across the World to a different country; it all depends on your situation and what you want to do.

Externship Site

"Do you think The Culinary Institute of America has better prepared you to go out in the industry and work?” She quickly responded "yes of course, here at school you'll find many different aspects on food, cultures and people from all around the World who have so much knowledge and they are here to share it with us".  With that being said, "What are you looking forward to most about going on extern?”. I am excited to be on my own, here at school there is always someone watching you and making sure you’re doing things the correct way, and externship gives me the opportunity to put my skills to the test and make mistakes first hand and learn from them", she said. The CIA makes every student do a 15 week externship at a CIA approved site, this is because the CIA wants to show their students what it’s like to work out in the industry and put what they have learned their first year to the test.

Individual & Production Pastries Class

My final questions where all about advice, "Any advice for new students coming to The Culinary Institute of America?" and she said "stay on top of things, don't procrastinate and make sure to read recipes and be prepared for class" The workload here is different from any other school, it goes in depth about each topic and will fully make you understand this industry front to back and side to side, but that's why employers choose CIA grads, because they know we are learning all the information for us to be able to succeed. My last question during my lunch interview with Kaitlyn Algarin was "Any advice for current students planning for externship?” and she smiled and said "don't procrastinate and think about it later, externship will be here before you know it, attend multiple career fairs because that is a good way to first handily meet the employer and hand them your resume. and finally apply to more than one externship site because if you only apply to one and they don't contact you back then you’re in a panic to find another one." kaitlyn is going to have a blast working for the Crystal Springs Resort & Spa for five months, she is going to learn a lot and come back to The Culinary Institute of America a better person and a better Chef.

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