By Renee Farell
ICC Student, Professional Culinary Arts
As a member of the Professional Culinary Arts evening program at ICC, I benefit from a lot of spare time. I’m lucky to have been able to leave my former path and start afresh, and chose the weeknight class to immerse myself in the industry while gaining my culinary education.
There are two tracks at ICC. You can choose the intensive program and complete all coursework in six months, or you can do the weeknight track and maintain a part-time (or in some cases, full-time) job while completing your studies.
As a career changer, I chose the first option. Since leaving the finance industry and starting the evening Culinary Arts program, I’ve worked for Sur La Table, started a food blog, gained food media exposure by networking with test-kitchen experts at Bon Appétit magazine, helped food-focused not-for-profit the Healthbarn Foundation get their social media strategy on track, and have been introduced to entrepreneurs and chefs that I would never have gained exposure to were it not for the doors that ICC opened.
A lot of people ask how I’ve found the time to do all of this in the two short months since I’ve started. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve done all that much compared to some of my classmates. One of the top performing students in my class is a mother who recently put two kids through college (one through law school), currently works full-time, and runs six miles five times a week – all while acing the evening culinary arts program. I feel lazy in comparison.
As I see it, the major benefits of the full-time program are definitely the immersion and intensity. What my class will achieve in nine months, the full-timers will achieve in six. It’s a big commitment, but immersion is the most active ingredient. Without constant participation and interest it’s impossible to achieve the full potential the culinary arts program offers. It’s an amazing opportunity that leaves you wanting to squeeze out every last drop, and hang onto every word of advice that your chef-instructor imparts.
Which brings me to my final point: it’s what you put into the program that will determine what you get out of it. The choice to go full-time of part-time will depend on your specific circumstances, the more important choice is to be present, alert and prepared. You’ll be glad you did.