Pickens Technical College has introduced a new Culinary Arts program that trains students in the art of being a professional chef. Being a professional chef is more than plating dishes and trying to be Anthony Bourdain, it’s a skill that requires plenty of education, experience, and some luck to make it in this competitive and difficult field.
PTC arms its students with the knowledge and background they need to compete in many different fields and its staff and faculty are excited to add another course to their offerings. The Culinary Arts program is a two-semester course that introduces students to cooking fundamentals and baking techniques. You’ll learn about the nutritional properties of different foods and how to manage a kitchen. After this course, you’ll be able to get started in a restaurant and hit the ground running with superior organization skills and a solid understanding of what makes different foods delicious and nutritious. You’ll also impress your normally stern head chefs and supervisors with your knowledge of customer and employee safety, kitchen sanitation, and safe serving techniques. Find out more about the class here .
Teaching this course is the aptly named Taylor Cookingham, a former instructor at Johnson and Wales University’s Denver College of Culinary Arts and an experienced chef, as well as a member of the Colorado Restaurant Association. She hopes to involve her students in a deep understanding of what it means to produce good food and how to routinely create new flavors and sensations in the kitchen.
This new program will open more doors to students who want to learn how the traditions of cooking from an experienced instructor and chef, and show them how to tear down those traditions and go for something new beyond where they thought they could reach. Cookingham plans on helping her students reach their potential as chefs and provide them with opportunities to find work after they graduate from her class by forging connections with the local food scene. She strives to provide the tools her students need to succeed in a variety of culinary arts careers.
If you didn’t know by now, Pickens Technical College’s Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) program trains students for long careers in the engineering, design, and construction fields. CAD is a popular program at PTC because of the many doors this skill can open. Many companies in the Denver area are looking for skilled employees who can use their CAD software to design everything from machine parts to architecture.
One company that is always looking for young talent, especially young talent that can use CAD software, is Oldcastle Building Envelope. They make custom-engineered and designed products specifically for building envelopes (walls, windows, rooves, storefront designs, etc.). Some of these products include window walls, architectural windows, storefront systems, doors, skylights, and architectural glass. These products have to be manufactured exactly to fit specifications of Oldcastle’s clients, all of whom expect a wide portfolio of building envelope components all from the same company.
Oldcastle uses a complex CAD program called BIM IQ to combine product visualization and build product performance into the process from the start. Its BIM IQ Render feature provides design engineers with physically accurate building product visualizations of an architectural product. Designers can use this to generate real-time imagery in local servers or using the cloud. Combined with BIM IQ Energy, which provides product performance feedback for a designer’s decisions when they can still make affordable changes to the product. Oldcastle uses several other proprietary programs to design components for building envelopes such as the estimating tool VistaVision and the glass specification tool GlasSelect.
Truly talented CAD engineers could probably go further into all of the great things that Oldcastle’s BIM IQ can do to help digitally design building envelopes and their components, but students of the CAD program at PTC have a leg up on learning this software and using it to help Oldcastle’s clients. Suzanne Payne, the CAD instructor at PTC, immerses her students in how to use several CAD programs, including AutoCAD for two-dimensional images, Solidworks for three-dimensional mechanical design, and Revit for three-dimensional architectural design. Learning these three programs gives students not only firsthand experience in these in-demand programs, it gives students the tools to learn additional programs such as BIM IQ.
Oldcastle and companies like it tend to hire students with a proven track record of learning new skills quickly and accurately. Payne and indeed the entire staff at PTC train students in specific skills they’ll need in their career of choice, but they also give students the tools to pick up new skills along the way. That’s what employers like Oldcastle Building Envelope are looking for. They want employees who can learn and grow with them in the long term. Students with many skills and a background in learning new CAD software programs are sought after by Oldcastle.
For more information on how to connect with Oldcastle representatives looking for PTC students to hire, contact the extremely useful Career Services Office on campus to visit with the venerable Gill Thompson.
We all need a little help once in a while. At Pickens Technical College, the staff and faculty are all here to help you find a job after you learn everything you can about your dream career and graduate. Learning how to be a medical assistant does you no good if you can’t find a position when you leave PTC’s halls. Luckily, there are plenty of resources and experienced career advisors to help students with their lives post-PTC. I contacted Gill Thompson, PTC Career Services Coordinator, and asked him a few questions about how he and the rest of the PTC Career Services staff help students get jobs after earning their certificates at PTC in any field.
What are a few things that all students can do while they’re still in class at PTC to make sure they find a good job after graduation?
Thompson : All students should utilize our online job board called the College Central Network. There are usually over 150+ jobs posted ranging from all industries and full time and [part] time jobs. They may be able to get a job in their chosen industry before they graduate! They should also participate [in] our Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO’s) because they provide leadership and community service opportunities; this looks really good to employers. Student should also start building resumes when school starts and not wait until the end of the school year. If they start working on their resumes early, they produce a much more professional document. Having a resume, will also prepare them for the annual Employment Fair; where [we] will have over 40 companies in attendance looking to hire students. Lastly, research, research, research; they should research industries and companies because this will help them find a good company in an industry they can excel in.
What’s the most common question you get asked by students on a regular basis?
Thompson: “Can you help me get a job?” My answer is always, “YES”! But then I follow that up with I can provide you with resources, tools, and job leads, but YOU have to go out and get the job. I help with resumes, cover letters, interviews, LinkedIN profiles, and anything else I can do to help them. It ultimately comes down to how much work the student is willing to do on their own. Students who take looking for a job seriously get the best jobs. Students who expect me to do the work for them, usually stay unemployed because they take no responsibility in the process.
Do you frequently come across any misconceptions about finding work after graduation that you’d like to put to rest?
Thompson: First and foremost, when looking for a job, you have to treat it like it is your job. In other words, finding a job, is a full time job.
Second, it is much easier to find a job when you already have a job. For some reason, people who are out of work come off as desperate, and this shows in interviews. If you have a job, you seem much more relaxed when job hunting and this shows in the interview.
My strongest point is: nobody is going to hand you your dream job! You have to go out and get it and the only way that will happen is by “working hard!” In the workforce, there is no such thing as “getting lucky”, however, you can create your own “good luck” by working hard. If you work hard, people notice, and then the “good luck” finds you, because you earned it by working hard. Along those same lines, you have to start entry level, and IF you work hard, then you can move up in an industry and company. If you constantly get passed up on promotions, if you never get a raise, it may not be the [boss’s] fault. Most likely, it is your fault, and your (bad) work habits are the reason you get passed up on promotions and raises.
Gill Thompson has been working with PTC students for years getting them jobs in their chosen fields. The best thing you can do when you’re studying your craft there is give him a visit to talk about your future after graduation.
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