This Is A Question To All You Full Time Decorators...

Business By Tramski Updated 16 Jun 2008 , 1:42am by Cakenicing4u

Tramski Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 2:13am
post #1 of 31

I wasn't sure what to title this so I did my best. My question is if someone was to call you and ask if they could work for you just for the experience would you think they were crazy or would you be excited to take them up on their offer?

The reason I ask is because I really want to learn from someone who does this for a living but I can't afford to quit my job to work full-time at a bakery so I was thinking about asking a bakery near my house if they would accept me as a "helper" on weekends or evenings and let me learn from them.

Thanks for reading this and for any replies.

30 replies
Cakenicing4u Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 2:47am
post #2 of 31

Well, you could get a couple responses.... in the grocery store, we have to say no cause of the rules of the machine that makes you a number and not a name.

In the local small shop, you're a person and they will probable think about it. BUT, if they are busy like we are, we have NO time to train, so we wouldn't hire you for anything but cleaning and dishes... and if that's not what you want, it's a no go.

Now, if you send a PHOTO collage with your interest letter, your chances of getting the opportunity to learn stuff may be better. If we could SEE that you can ice a cake or make a rose, pipe a border, carve a shape, make a character in fondant or cover a cake in fondant..... that would be enough for us to talk about it and think about it and maybe even call ya!

Being pros means that we know how much work it really is... so we won't take on people looking for no money experience.. it says that they don't know just how much work it is, and that baking is FUN! So much fun we'll do it for free.... icon_confused.gif Ya, we won't call ya back... but show us photos and tell us you want $7.50 an hour, we know you're ready to work!


Hope it helps... we have had lots of interest but never actually hired anyone that was interested like that. thumbsdown.gif

CelebrationsbyLori Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 3:19am
post #3 of 31

As a shop owner and instructor, I have had a lot of similar offers to yours. I have never taken anyone up on it. It tells me that you want to learn from my experience and then quit when you are confident enough to go out on your own and be my competition. I'm sure that's not necessarily how you mean it, but that's the meat of it. If I am going to invest the time and money into training someone, I want them to be a fully invested employee that is going to work for me for a long time, not someone just wanting to play around. I know it sounds a little harsh, but this is a hectic business when it is a business and there isn't a lot of fun time. You might instead think about finding a cake decorating group in your area or forming one where people can get together once or twice a month and share ideas or try new techniques that would be a little more relaxed! Just my opinion!
Lori

Tramski Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 3:20am
post #4 of 31

Thanks Cakenicing4u for your feedback. I never thought about the free work that way but I can understand why people would think that way. Great advice!

Tramski Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 3:23am
post #5 of 31

CelebrationsbyLori thank you for replying, I really want to get some experience with a bakery because the few I have tried to apply for looked at my like I was crazy since I never worked in one before.

I am not sure if I want my own cake shop in the future, but I know that right now I want to find a way to gain knowledge so I can at least work for someone else and be work their time and money.

littlecake Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 4:59am
post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by CelebrationsbyLori

As a shop owner and instructor, I have had a lot of similar offers to yours. I have never taken anyone up on it. It tells me that you want to learn from my experience and then quit when you are confident enough to go out on your own and be my competition. I'm sure that's not necessarily how you mean it, but that's the meat of it. If I am going to invest the time and money into training someone, I want them to be a fully invested employee that is going to work for me for a long time, not someone just wanting to play around. I know it sounds a little harsh, but this is a hectic business when it is a business and there isn't a lot of fun time. You might instead think about finding a cake decorating group in your area or forming one where people can get together once or twice a month and share ideas or try new techniques that would be a little more relaxed! Just my opinion!
Lori




i feel the same way....and i have people ask me all the time if they can come intern for free.....duff has interns tho, someone might take you up on it...interns usually have to do the crappy work though.

by looking at your pictures , you have more decorating experiance than i did when i got my first bakery job.....if you are really serious, why not go that route?

tonedna Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 5:14am
post #7 of 31

I agree..You have no time to train cause you are so busy at the shop. Usually people train and when they train enough they leave. Is a very complicated situation.. And I am a teacher..so I tell them come to my class
Edna icon_biggrin.gif

chutzpah Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 5:21am
post #8 of 31

I encounter this every day, and agree with Lori.

Why should I spend my valuable time training someone who is not my employee?

People ask every day if they can work for free, and then get mad when I say no. They see it only as free labor for me, and wonder why I don't jump all over it, but I see it as a big PITA. I absolutely do not have time to train, free or paid.

People also think having a cake shop is a dance, but it's not. The job is not romantic just because I make wedding cakes, not fun just because I make party cakes. The job is 86% cleaning, washing dishes, helping customers, placing orders, cleaning, washing dishes, baking, paying bills, cleaning..... and about 15% decorating.

They just don't get it.

mommyle Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 5:51am
post #9 of 31

That's so funny, because I have thought about going to one of the "stores" and getting some experience, but then thought, Darn it, I do WAY better carvings than they do! And now I just want to open my own place. I know that I still need a ton of experience, and I'm working on it. And then I'm going to open my own place. So my advice to you is, keep you eye open for a good rent, keep practicing on your own because no place is going to hire the competition to train them, and THEN kick butt on your own. BUT... you need to find a niche. something that no one else is doing. Carved cakes. Cupcakes. Weddings. Wierd. A flavor. Something unusual. JMHO. Good luck

Cakenicing4u Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 10:24am
post #10 of 31

Ha, and then you have a situation like mine... sent the collage with a resume, got the job.... she said "You're not going to let me hang to dry and go open your own shop are ya?" and six months later says... "Ya.... i'm burnt out even with help, so by the fall you need to find another job, but hey, if you want to open a shop, you can have all my over-flow business. I'm sorry!"

So ya-- I may be looking for free help when i open that new shop, LOL... so you can be trained MY way and get paid when I can afford it... LOL which may be never.

Tramski Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 7:52pm
post #11 of 31

Thank you all for your incite into this. I talked it over with the hubby and I think I am going to just keep learning on my own through classes at my local cake shop and then in 2012 when we are more financially set I will start to look so a small place to rent. Until then I am sure my friends and family will be happy to eat all of my creations.

1234me Posted 13 Jun 2008 , 11:49pm
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by CelebrationsbyLori

It tells me that you want to learn from my experience and then quit when you are confident enough to go out on your own and be my competition.




that is EXACTLY why I don't want to have any helpers! icon_smile.gif

itsacake Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 1:16am
post #13 of 31

I am amazed to be reading how this has gone. Because of the tone of this thread, I'm pretty sure it would be easier not to post this. Someone is certainly going to take offense (please, please, don't) and I'm already sorry about that, but I really feel I need to present a different perspective.

I just finished pastry school and externed for three months(for free) with a wonderful special order bakery owner who willingly showed me everything she knows (which is a lot, as she has been doing it for 18 years) I had access to recipes, techniques, you name it-- she SHARED. She answered every question about how to do business, where to find the best suppliers, etc. She did this even knowing that I not only plan to open a shop, but that I will be her direct competition because we will be after the same niche and only 50 miles apart.

Will I try to take her customers? You better believe I will NOT!!!!! Will I help her if she has to go out of town or gets sick or gets overbooked. YOU Bet!!!! Will she do the same for me once I'm established. I have NO DOUBT!!!! She will even let me rent time in her kitchen until I have my own!!!!

I firmly believe that if you have a good product and you provide good customer service, you will keep your customers even if there is competition. Ever notice that car dealers often all line up on the same street? Near my house, Linens and Things and Bed, Bath, and Beyond are on opposite corners of the same intersection. Healthy competition can be a very good thing. I have my own recipes and the last thing I want to do is duplicate another bakeries menu. But did I need to see how it all works in the real world? Of course!!

By the way, before I worked with this woman, I also worked for free for some weeks at another bakery that was mostly wholesale and learned that that was not what I wanted to do. Without these two experiences I would know a lot less about what the possibilities are out there and how to implement the ones I like. I can't thank these owners enough!!!!

We all had to learn from someone. Sometimes it is from the internet, sometimes from school, sometimes from other classes. The best way to learn is to do it with someone else who can teach you. When you look back on your life, I'd bet you are going to remember most fondly the other lives you touched and the people you helped, not who sold the most cakes!!!!! Instead of being worried about someone becoming your competition, think about how you can help someone become your colleague. You may help yourself, possibly make a friend, and do a good deed at the same time.

I'm getting off my soapbox now.......

Cakenicing4u Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 1:31am
post #14 of 31

In a perfect world and after 18 years in business, knowing what works and what doesn't and how to pay the bills and having help that I could count on, I'd hope that i would be able to pass the torch along. Heck. I looked for my next exchange student based on an interest in BAKING. I want to share... someday--but for many many bakers, that day is NOT today.

In my personal experience. At my PT job I am a number and for me to train you, you have to be a number too. It's just the rules.

At my FT job, the shop is only 20x30 feet in size and after all the equipment, it's ridiculously small. Don't fart or the other will smell it SMALL. It's only been in business for four years, and anyone that has a shop can tell you that that's a critical time. It's when you know that you made it or that you didn't. It's a milestone for many businesses. My boss had me working PT on the clock for months before she trusted me enough to take the next step and make me a real employee with taxes and insurance and everything. That's a big step for someone working from a cottage on the property she lives on! Then after me and all the business we added on, it was time to find another employee. But with such a small shop, there's not really space for another baker or decorater... so she hired a clean up person, and that's ALL that he does.

We tossed around ideas for months and months on how to make the most of our space, and then talked and talked about the next step-- grow on the property, put a new bulding on the property, rent another property, buy a property, lease a space.... around and around! The last thing that we needed was a trainee who needed constant guidance or a trainee that we didn't have time to train right! Do it right or don't do it at all.... so we don't do it at all.

Everyone has to make that choice for what is proper for their business. You were blessed and lucky to find the people in your life that are guiding you. I had to learn on the job-- at Dairy queen, at Carvel and then in grocery stores till I got the job I always wanted! Going to pastry school and then trying to get an internship is WAY different than someone who has a 'real job' and wants to learn cake decorating. Maybe that's the real difference!

icer101 Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 1:34am
post #15 of 31

i am so impressed with itsacake.... it was truly touching.... you will go along way in this business... no , i don,t have a business , that i could hire someone.... if i do someday..... i will remember you and how you feel about the person that gave you a chance to learn so much.... everything we do in life should be kind and sharing and wanting to help someone... thanks for your post....i needed to be uplifted today!!!

patrincia Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 1:44am
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by icer101

i am so impressed with itsacake.... it was truly touching.... you will go along way in this business... no , i don,t have a business , that i could hire someone.... if i do someday..... i will remember you and how you feel about the person that gave you a chance to learn so much.... everything we do in life should be kind and sharing and wanting to help someone... thanks for your post....i needed to be uplifted today!!!




I'm not a shop owner, but I totally agree.

CelebrationsbyLori Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 3:10am
post #17 of 31

I just want to clarify, it's not the threat of competition that would be the #1 reason to not let someone wander in and 'work for free". Also setting aside the liability, and workman's comp issues. Learning the basics is what classes are for. I wouldn't walk into a auto shop and say, I'm really interested in learning to fix cars, can I hang around and work for free so you can teach me? A small shop doesn't allow time for constant training, it's just the way it is. I wish I had the luxury to bring a friend in and show them the ropes, but I don't, maybe in another 10 years, I will. I envy you that you were able to find someone to mentor you, but realize it is a rare thing in this world in any field! The bottom line is business is business, I said before it probably sounds harsh and someone will think I don't play well with others, but it's just the reality of it for me.
Lori

littlecake Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 5:50am
post #18 of 31

My daughter in law interns in another field, and she has to pay them for the experiance ,she signed on for a year, at 800.00 a month.

wonder if the work for free peeps, would wanna do that?

it just doesn't seem fair to me, we invest blood sweat tears and time, have secret recipes we have gotten down to a science, and worked at crappy bakeries and worked our way up....

so they should work for free to find out what we had to strive to find out...

let me tell you my story, in the 90's i owned a successful business in another field....i had it down to a science...i wanted to help a couple of people...so i took them under my wing and taught them everything i knew....

WELL

instead of putting their own spin on it...and spreading out...no they kept it exactly the way i did it and went after my customer base....that's why i'm in the cake business now....i'm just saying...

theres a reason why the colonel kept his 11 herbs and spices a secret.

"donning my flame retardant underwear"

itsacake Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 6:17am
post #19 of 31

Thanks icer101 and patrincia for your posts and Tramski for your PM.

tonedna Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 6:48am
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsacake

I am amazed to be reading how this has gone. Because of the tone of this thread, I'm pretty sure it would be easier not to post this. Someone is certainly going to take offense (please, please, don't) and I'm already sorry about that, but I really feel I need to present a different perspective.

I just finished pastry school and externed for three months(for free) with a wonderful special order bakery owner who willingly showed me everything she knows (which is a lot, as she has been doing it for 18 years) I had access to recipes, techniques, you name it-- she SHARED. She answered every question about how to do business, where to find the best suppliers, etc. She did this even knowing that I not only plan to open a shop, but that I will be her direct competition because we will be after the same niche and only 50 miles apart.


Will I try to take her customers? You better believe I will NOT!!!!! Will I help her if she has to go out of town or gets sick or gets overbooked. YOU Bet!!!! Will she do the same for me once I'm established. I have NO DOUBT!!!! She will even let me rent time in her kitchen until I have my own!!!!

I firmly believe that if you have a good product and you provide good customer service, you will keep your customers even if there is competition. Ever notice that car dealers often all line up on the same street? Near my house, Linens and Things and Bed, Bath, and Beyond are on opposite corners of the same intersection. Healthy competition can be a very good thing. I have my own recipes and the last thing I want to do is duplicate another bakeries menu. But did I need to see how it all works in the real world? Of course!!

By the way, before I worked with this woman, I also worked for free for some weeks at another bakery that was mostly wholesale and learned that that was not what I wanted to do. Without these two experiences I would know a lot less about what the possibilities are out there and how to implement the ones I like. I can't thank these owners enough!!!!

We all had to learn from someone. Sometimes it is from the internet, sometimes from school, sometimes from other classes. The best way to learn is to do it with someone else who can teach you. When you look back on your life, I'd bet you are going to remember most fondly the other lives you touched and the people you helped, not who sold the most cakes!!!!! Instead of being worried about someone becoming your competition, think about how you can help someone become your colleague. You may help yourself, possibly make a friend, and do a good deed at the same time.

I'm getting off my soapbox now.......



All I have to say..you are a good person but it only takes one to come into your business and steal everything you have and make it their own with no appreciation.. I say this cause I saw it happen and you never know. Yes, we can have the heart to be good to a lot of people.. but some of them will take it all and abuse the trust. Right now we have an intern she is the swetest girl. She is learning lots, Graduating top honors in culinary school.. She is moving to another state after she is done.
But before we had another..the story is not the same..
How do you know? Is imposible to know who is going to backstab you..is a game you play, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

Edna

CelebrationsbyLori Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 3:14pm
post #21 of 31

Exactly, there's a business where I live that was selling out, a girl went in under the guise of purchasing the business. After 6 months of training, showing the ropes, even taking her to market to introduce her to vendors and the like, she backed out of the deal and opened her own store (not a bakery). I'm sure she lost some ernest money, but it was more than worth the knowledge she gained for opening her store. You just can't read people these days unfortunately and ones that are not trying to scr*w you are few and far between. I know this sounds cynical, but it's hard not to be. I have one full-time employee and she has a non-compete clause that last for 5 years after her employment ends for a 100 mile radius. I hope that never has to be used, but it's there and I love her to death and couldn't get by without her, but I've also invested over 2 years at this point in training her to do things my way. That's a lot of time, money and effort! Don't get me wrong, I would love to have volunteers to come in and wash dishes, sweep floors and the like, but it's the free training that I have a problem with I guess.
"Already wearing my flame retardant underwear!"
Lori

Tramski Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 1:18pm
post #22 of 31

I really appreciate everyone's view point. I started this thread because I was looking for a way to gain knowlegde and experience until we are more financially set so I can leave my current job.

I never thought of it from the viewpoint of the owner where you train someone with the possibility that they could just walk with all their knowledge.

I also appreciate that there may be people out there that are willing to take the chance on someone to help them learn.

Its a tough world out there, and I hope that one day I can get to the point where I can find a job in a bakery where I will fit in and gain knowledge and experience working for them as an employee.

Thank you again for all of your responses.

tonedna Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 5:10pm
post #23 of 31

I would say keep looking..keep practicing yours skills..dont go as much for training but as a person who wants to work there.. That will make a difference. And take all the courses that you can..
Thats how I learn my skills..lots of practice and when I was good enough started to work at a high end bakery..
It does help not to say I need training and show some of your skills..Then just watch and learn..
Edna

littlecake Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 7:44pm
post #24 of 31

Edna your cakes are stunning!

brogi2baker Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 8:10pm
post #25 of 31

I love cakecentral, just want to start by saying that. However, for being a support system, lots of posts tend to focus on the negative (even though honest, and thanks for that as well). I guess that is life and business, but it was very touching and inspiring to read your reply isacake! good luck to you and your future in this business, you will go far!

tonedna Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 8:57pm
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlecake

Edna your cakes are stunning!




Thanks littlecake!... icon_lol.gif

robinscakes Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 9:42pm
post #27 of 31

I just had the culinary arts instructor from my town's high school come into my bakery and ask if some of his students could "intern" for a little while with me in the fall and help prepare them for competition. I didn't see why not. We get crazy busy in the fall. It would be nice to have some help and give back to the community. I do see, however, that it would be a little weird for Joe Schmo to come in and ask to work for free. You have to wonder what his motivation is. Probably to get free training and to go work for someone else or open his own business. There are also probably some "secrets" we like to keep to ourselves when we have our own business, like recipes or techniques icon_wink.gif

Cakenicing4u Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 9:51pm
post #28 of 31

icon_redface.gif I think that some of my posts had a negative undertone that I just didn't see til now. I think that my current situation has put me in the wrong frame of mind and it shines in here more than in other places.... So, I was being honest-- brutally so, and for that I apologize. I've got the job I always wanted and now I may have to go back to the one I hated most.

imakecakes Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 9:58pm
post #29 of 31

I have been wanting to write almost the exact same question for awhile now. I have been trying to find a job working in a cake bakery (I currently work in a bread bakery, and they don't make cakes icon_sad.gif ). I started working there 3 years ago thinking it would be great experience if I ever wanted to open my own shop one day. It was...It taught me that owning a shop is NOT for me, but it also taught me that I can work in that environment and still love it.

I would like to know whether I should even tell potential employers that I have experience when I go in. I have brought my pictures to several shops and they all like them very much, but they say that they don't make 3d or sculpted cakes so they aren't interested. I am self-taught, for the most part-(I took course I and III from Wilton and the instructor said she really didn't have anything to teach me, that I knew almost everything already and then asked me to become an instructor and teach the classes.) I think I have enough skills that I can be useful in a business, but naive enough that they can still mold me into the type of decorator they need. I know that there is a lot that I need to learn, and I would like to learn from an experienced decorator. I have no desire to open my own place-although I do make lots of cakes for my friends and family. I just want to decorate and make a living at what I love doing.

Would it be better if I just say that I'm looking for a job and leave out the part about having experience? I wouldn't want them to think I am deceiving them from the get go tho', either. I just need to get my foot in the door.

Any ideas for someone like me?

-K8memphis Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 10:01pm
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakenicing4u

icon_redface.gif I think that some of my posts had a negative undertone that I just didn't see til now. I think that my current situation has put me in the wrong frame of mind and it shines in here more than in other places.... So, I was being honest-- brutally so, and for that I apologize. I've got the job I always wanted and now I may have to go back to the one I hated most.




I thought your posts in this thread were right on and funny too. I absolutely love the description of how small the shop is!

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