Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Professionalism 101

Final Dessert Fall '10 Advanced Baking

Today marks the first day of the final semester to my culinary training 
at Great Lakes Culinary Institute....

In 108 days 
I will be completing my formal education.
For the time being...  
I could be easy for me to say: 
I am done forever with college-school-homework-tests... 
Except it should be noted- 
 In no way am I saying that I am even close to being done with my education and learning process.
I know in order to be successful not only as a chef but in every aspect of my life
 I need to practice 
I will still seek out opportunities to continue to grow in my knowledge and experience. 

This requires me to stay:

Open to New Ideas and Methods
Accepting of Challenges
Focused and Goal-Oriented
Optimistic and Thankful

And most importantly:

Adhere always to


\prə-ˈfesh-nə-ˌli-zəm, -ˈfe-shə-nə-ˌli-\


: the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person

In our very first class of CUL 295- better known as "The Restaurant Class" by the majority, we focused a large portion of the class on how we define this word not just in school but in all aspects of our lives.  We split up into small groups first and then came to ether as a class to share the answers that we had decided best described what this word meant to us and how it would be applied to our expectations in this class, and our instructors expectations too. We decided in part how we would participate in the course we are currently enrolled in now and beyond graduation in our own "real world scenarios".  

Instantly obvious was the fact that each and every one of us had our own unique interpretation and perception of what professionalism meant to us.  Common opinions were pin pointed too and became the foundation that would hold the framework of accountability and respect for one another and our forthcoming experience.

It made sense to all of us to point out how important it is to be aware at all times that we are being watched and evaluated.  Not just by our instructors but outside the classroom too.  Our community, friends and family, new students, and restaurant professionals who could be our future employers would all hold us to a higher standard based on our status as a culinary student.  Being mindful of all we say and do, our appearance, respectfulness, language, openness to sharing information and everything about our experience, especially upholding the basic knowledge and skill standards that are automatically expected to be known and practiced at the level we had now attained... these are just a few of the ideas we circulated as a class when defining this word, professionalism.  

What does professionalism mean to you? How do you define it not just in your job... but your life and situations?

For me professionalism begins with how I decide to start my day.  My attitude and outlook, and especially my constant striving for optimism in whatever I am faced with.  It involves a commitment to setting the best example possible in front of an Eight and Seven year old.  My sweet kiddos who are relying on me to teach them how to live in this world.  Every single thing I say and do is absorbed by these two, especially right now, and mainly because so  much of the world is still brand new to them.  How I react to everything, especially challenges and conflict is giving them an example of what to do, or not do if they choose, when faced with similar situations in their own experience.
I see that we are now in an age where hardly anything is private anymore. We have the option to be checked in to our specific location so everyone knows where we are.  We can report to a status that says exactly what we are up in case anyone cares.  Pictures get posted, people say whatever they want and people say things like "I'll facebook you later" to specify a newly accepted form of communication that is available worldwide.  These facebook profiles tell a story about who we are whether we like it or not.  Almost anybody can go on and find out whatever they want about us now.  Doesn't that make it even more important if you choose to be on these sites to protect your persona and perceived level of professionalism?  I think it most Absolutely does!!

To me Professionalism isn't just a way to conduct yourself, but maybe its more importantly 
a daily measure 
for how we carefully and thoughtfully choose to interact with our own individual world, people and circumstances.  
Paying attention to this level of communication 
that includes our attitudes, outward appearance, and purposeful contributions to all situations 
for me this is only the beginning of how we can 
define ourselves 
the qualities and characteristics 
I want to be known for.