Thursday, May 15, 2014

Options on the Horizon

by CIA Instructor Irena Chalmers

Irena Chalmers is the
author of Food Jobs
Countless hours are spent in classrooms. A phenomenal amount of physical and emotional effort is spent pursuing a degree, yet when graduation day arrives, too little time is devoted to thinking about and planning for what comes next. Too often, the first job offer is accepted because it is the only one on the table. Fortunately there are many opportunities waiting to be discovered.

There is nothing more satisfying than charting your own journey and sailing through the storm to your personal port. Having a sense of direction is infinitely less scary than being lost at sea. You have many destinations from which to choose.

You could be a private chef and travel with an international superstar or diplomat, or with an athlete who is competing on the world stage. Have you considered cooking on a small luxury yacht? You'd be responsible for preparing three meals a day, but you wouldn't need to worry about car payments or the rent for an apartment. Nor would you have to pay taxes on your income whenever you were at least three miles off shore.

Many major restaurants, fast food chains, and catering companies—including Aramark and Sodexo—have branches in several countries, as do hotels and food-processing companies. 

Employment in the US can lead to many travel opportunities abroad. Supermarkets and food-processing companies engage experts to travel the world in search of coffee, tea, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, pasta, cookies, and other prepared foods and raw ingredients.

Would you like to design vegan wedding cakes or prefer to be an ice cream sommelier or an event planner? A food scientist or the owner of a bed & breakfast? A TV star or a food cartoonist? A literary agent or a restaurant designer? A recipe tester or a flavor maker? The curator of food exhibits or a culinary librarian?

Are you interested in humanitarian causes? Have you thought about developing hunger relief programs or helping write sustainable agricultural or fishing policy? Perhaps you would consider working for a food-related foundation or charitable cause. Or you may want to work for a local soup kitchen, or a national organization like Share our Strength or Meals on Wheels, providing food for the frail and elderly. Investigate

It's admirable to volunteer, but there are many surprisingly well-paid positions to be found creating programs to counter cooking illiteracy.

Clearly these are all vastly different career paths. But if you are able to narrow your options, it becomes considerably easier to focus your research. If you are interested in science and technology, you may be able to strike art and design from your list. If you want to cook, explore the dozens of opportunities open to you in restaurants and food service. Similarly (or oppositely), if you yearn to become a writer, you may need to seek employment wherever a check can be found.

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