Becoming a pastry chef is a dream for many. As a pastry chef, you will be able to create your own pastries, experiment with different recipes, and use your creativity to come up with your own desserts. But, if you haven’t had any experience working at a bakery, it’s doubtful that you will get hired as a chef. This is why most pastry chefs start their careers by committing themselves to a pastry internship.
But you don’t do an internship just so you can become a viable hire for bakeries. Interning at a bakery will help you accustom yourself to the lifestyle of a professional pastry chef. You will learn how to perfect your craft and how to go about the day-to-day work of being a professional chef. You can put the learning you’ve acquired at a pastry school or at home to the test in a real-world setting and immediately be able to see how you can use your skills in a business setting.
Before doing an internship, it’s advised that you take classes at a pastry school. Creating pastries requires more skill than most types of baking, and a formal education is generally necessary to doing it well. It’s also unlikely that you will be taken on as an apprentice unless you’ve already had some formal education.
Working as an apprentice isn’t easy. Just because you aren’t getting paid doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do less work than the paid employees. You’ll often be expected to do even MORE work than they do, and be the first to come to the bakery and the last to leave it. Learning how to make pastries will only be one part of the internship, you’ll probably be expected to clean, help customers, and do various odd jobs around the store.
You will often have to provide your own equipment — this includes outfits, cooking equipment, etc. — much of which you might not already have. This can, of course, be a costly expense. But make sure you buy high-quality equipment; you want to get along well with those you will be working with, and bringing in cheap equipment will show a lack of seriousness in your desire to be a professional chef. And, besides, high-quality equipment will make you better at your job and will allow you to learn more.
One of the most difficult parts about doing an internship is the time commitment, which can often end up also being a major financial commitment. For months, you will be working without getting paid, often doing so at full-time hours. This can eat up a lot of your free time, and might become a financial burden. You have to be sure that this is what you want to do. And if you currently have a job that you don’t want to risk losing, you’ll have to work out a possible schedule with your employer (which could lead you to working grueling hours). Don’t just jump into a pastry internship — make sure that you feel that you are capable of doing the job and are absolutely certain that this is the profession you want to pursue.
If you wish to pursue a baking and pastry arts certificate please see this article.