I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Furman University in Greenville, SC. Like many college seniors, I'd been struggling to determine what direction I'd go in after graduation and, even as I walked across the stage, shook President Smolla's hand, and received my diploma, I was still juggling the possibilities around in my head. During the school year, while my classmates were taking the GRE and an array of other tests, submitting grad school applications, and sending out resumes, I'd been wrapping my mind around the fact that I'd likely be returning home to western Pennsylvania for at least the summer, festering in my room, reading countless books and watching hours of TV.
Now, I don't want to sound like the college kid returned to the depths of her parents' basement, destined to work dead end jobs and not move out until the age of 30. I've had some ideas rolling around in my head and I've been putting my abundant free time to good use, researching various grad school and job options and thinking how to build on my internship experiences. I interned at a small publishing company in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2010, and while there, I was the Acquisitions Editor for a literary-themed online publication sponsored by the company. During the spring of 2011, when most of my classmates were coasting through their classes and nervously awaiting responses from grad schools and employers, I interned at a Greenville-based publishing company and worked on their business magazine. It was through these experiences that I came to realize that I'd enjoy working on small/local publications, particularly magazines. I love the idea of being able to work in any town or city and I love the idea of being able to do freelance work. I like the writing style and set up of magazines and I like that fact that they have a focus—lifestyle, fashion, travel, cooking, etc. So, with this knowledge, I'd been toying with the idea of returning to the South to pursue a masters degree in journalism. But something wasn't clicking—I had read through countless information packets that I requested from schools, but I wasn't excited about any of them. I'd spoken to my dad about my thoughts on journalism school and was surprised when one night he said "You know what? You should just forget about journalism and go to culinary school! I think you'd be good at it." Sounds like this was right out of left field, right? Well, surprisingly, I'd actually briefly considered that option. I had been reading up about freelance work and how to get more writing experience and I was finding that it really helps if you specialize in something, whether it's sports, food, parties, or medicine. Problem is, I don't have any specialization. I have a broad knowledge of many topics, but nothing extensive. So, when I thought to myself "Well, what would I really like to know more about and then write about?", my mind immediately went to cooking. I've enjoyed cooking for many years, ever since my cousin Kate let me tag along while she cooked dinner during my summer visits in middle school, and I have recently reunited with this love now that I'm out of my crappy campus apartment kitchen and back home in a kitchen with fresh herbs, All-Clad pots, and a gigantic sink. My dad's suggestion regarding culinary school came from the fact that he knew I enjoyed cooking, and, during that week alone, I'd made swordfish and spaghetti with citrus pesto, Italian mac&cheese, and prosciutto and spinach ravioli for the two of us while my mom was at the beach with her mother. So, I put his suggestion in the back of my head and continued on, trying to formulate a plan for my future but still feeling sort of lost.
Feeling like I was stuck in limbo, my boyfriend and I planned a trip to Greenville so we could spend time with each other and visit friends who are still living in the area. I really just needed a break and some time to relax and not worry about my future. Being at home and doing nothing career-oriented was driving me insane and I wanted to talk to friends about it, see what their plans were, and get feedback on the ideas I'd been thinking about. Turns out, this trip was just what I needed and, on the drive back home, I was feeling elated (despite the fact that I had 8.5 hours to drive). I'd had time to think about journalism school, I'd mentioned the idea of culinary school to friends, I'd been thinking about moving away from home, and suddenly everything clicked: culinary school. In the South. Perfect.
So here's my plan: Complete a certificate/diploma or associates program for culinary arts, then possibly pursue my masters in journalism, then work with a food-focused magazine(s) writing about what I love. And hey, maybe I'll even work as a private chef or small-scale caterer on the side.
I loved going to college in the South and I want to go back, so I've centered my culinary school search on North Carolina, a state I've been smitten with since a few trips there during my first year in college. I'm looking at the Art Institute of Charlotte, the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham, and Johnson & Wales in Charlotte.
So now you know my background, my goals, and my plans. As for the point of this blog: it'll be a place for me to share recipes and restaurant reviews, write about my experience applying to culinary arts programs, and more. Hopefully soon, it will even be a place to share my experiences as a culinary student.