Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Careers in Food Media & Communications Panel

by Crystal Tan, Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, from La Papillote

On Monday, January 11th, the Careers in Food Media and Communications panel was hosted here on campus. The participants were:
The alumni panel's goal was to provide information on the developing Food Media concentration within the Applied Food Studies major.

The participating group of alumni spanned many different areas in food media, and they were all eager to provide stories of their experiences in the field.

When it comes to tips for starting a career in food media, the collectively agreed upon responses were to gain experience, to work hard, and to market yourself. 

In the food media industry, kitchen experience is very important. Practical experience in the kitchen allows us to begin a food media career as richer people. Kitchen experience also provides a foundation and character building. Erin shared that, in her past, she averted kitchen experience, wanting only to focus on food media. Now, she has realized that she would not have such a career now without the past experience of working in restaurants. Working hard is also part of the deal; Kersti's advice is to say yes to everything. She said, "There is no status involved, chefs will catch onto your integrity," your work ethic will provide further opportunities. On the topic of self-marketing, the panelists advised on creating an identity by using social media. Social media is a powerful tool for public relations at our fingertips.

Our world now is a digital world, and what is happening to the traditional form of social media, the magazines? Food media is now regarded as a combination of print and social media, reducing career possibilities in magazines. Sarah Carey shared that magazines are now contracting with freelancers instead of hiring full-time staff. There are also more digital extras to magazine print contents. Andrew's advice to us was to be open-minded when looking for positions, and that there are even opportunities to create your own positions due to the growing importance of digital content. While the traditional magazine medium for food media offers less opportunities, food media as a whole has a broader range for content, creating new careers within the field.

The panelists also shared their experiences of freelancing. The panelists' consensus was that freelancing may be financially unstable, but is a great way to gain experience and become well rounded. Freelancing means managing yourself as a business; basic accounting and personal finance are great skills to have. Many of the panelists shared that they have never had just one job.
Sara Moulton shared her mother's advice, which was "go on every date, go on every job interview." 
Creating connections is important. Kersti recommending prioritizing work and experience over monetary rewards. Other advice included working hard at internships to eventually lead to jobs, and connecting with the Career Services Office for opportunities.

After the panel discussion, there was a chance to connect with the panelists. I took this time to ask for advice from several panelists. Sara Moulton advised CIA students to check out blogs, websites, and other digital content to find out what attracts us and why. Finding out which aspect we would like to pursue is a great first step. Jennifer's reply to my question of how to become more marketable at interviews was show how you can fit in with the team or company in the cover letter instead of simply listing your qualifications. For those interested in food styling, Erin recommended thinking about visual appeal of dishes in our classes and everyday lives. Todd believes that social media is very important and the next upcoming platform may be the popular Snapchat. On the topic of getting digital experience, Patrick emphasized the importance of understanding basic digital concepts such as Wordpress, and delivering ideas in visually compelling ways.

To those interested in a career in food media, this alumni presentation offered important insights in this industry. The sharing of their past experiences helped us set realistic goals and offered practical advice in pursuing such a career.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Senior Class Project


While “normal college seniors” are writing their 50-page thesis papers, here at The Culinary Institute we are planning our Senior Event. It’s an event which ties together everything that both culinary and baking students at the college should have learned or been exposed to by their senior year including; cooking, baking, marketing, accounting, and table service. For the recent event, “Harvest on the Hudson,” my class chose to showcase local farmers and purveyors across the Hudson Valley, using their products to help create our menu. We decided to donate our proceeds to the local Poughkeepsie Home for Children as well as CIA student scholarships. In total, the event took a little over one month to plan, and along the way my classmates and myself all learned valuable things which not only helped us to execute a successful event, but prepare us that much more for our futures as we leave for the “real world” in December.
Some of the things I learned:

Planning is everything—our motto at the CIA is Mise en Place for Life, meaning "Everything in its place."

We started with ideas, then developed recipes, tested those recipes, and ultimately prepared the final dishes for the event.
Attention to details, every last detailuniforms, hors d'oeuvre, table settings...

Communication is key.


As a class, we learned so much about not only running an event, but about just how much we all had grown over the course of four years at The Culinary. If someone had said to me when I started college that I would be planning and executing an event for people, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. “It’s the journey that matters in the end.” The Culinary has been a journey for all of us graduating in December and our senior event is just another part of our journey, which we will take with us in our careers ahead. 

Check out upcoming senior class dinners. More photos from Harvest on the Hudson: