Finding A Job In The Business

Business By EnjoyTheCake Updated 9 Jul 2010 , 1:36pm by IsaSW

EnjoyTheCake Posted 7 Jul 2010 , 7:27pm
post #1 of 16

So I've been teaching Wilton for a couple of a years and have been decorating just about as long. I'm trying to get into a local culinary program, but I have to come up with the money first. I really want to work in the business and use the creative skills I've developed.

I don't mind doing dishes or mopping floors or whatever it takes to be part of something I love. But it seems the only jobs available are at the grocery store bakeries, and I'm not willing to work that sort of bakery again.

How did you break into the business, without opening your own shop or doing it from home?

I really want to work, but I'm so frustrated with the seeming lack of opportunity out there.

15 replies
CWR41 Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 2:48am
post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnjoyTheCake

I really want to work in the business and use the creative skills I've developed.

I don't mind doing dishes or mopping floors or whatever it takes to be part of something I love. But it seems the only jobs available are at the grocery store bakeries, and I'm not willing to work that sort of bakery again.




Wow! You must have had a really bad experience working at a grocery store bakery! What went wrong? I don't see how doing dishes or mopping floors will allow you to use your creative skills any more than decorating cakes in a grocery store environment.

EnjoyTheCake Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 4:24am
post #3 of 16

You have less chance of being creative in a grocery store than you do in a bakery that does custom cakes.

Also in a grocery store you work with nothing but frozen cake, cardboard, tubs of shortening based icing, and retail managers who would rather pay you less than care about your name.

At least in a bakery who appreciates talent and hard work, you have a chance to actually do something with your talent instead of making cakes for cake wrecks.

CWR41 Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 5:01am
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnjoyTheCake

You have less chance of being creative in a grocery store than you do in a bakery that does custom cakes.




Yes, of course, I totally understand that, but you have even less chance of being creative if you apply for a job and tell them you don't mind washing dishes and mopping floors. That's why I asked what went so wrong with your previous experience that made you want to volunteer yourself for the grunt jobs that aren't necessarily creative.

EnjoyTheCake Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 6:11pm
post #5 of 16

I took a job at Sam's Club during graduation season.

There was no process for order confirmation. If someone came up to the counter and said they had a cake, if we didn't have an order for it and didnt' have a cake for it, but they insisted they ordered it, we had to make it on the spot.

We used nothing but frozen cakes.

We ran out of icing, ran out of boxes, ran out of managers (they used up all the overtime and no one was left come Friday).

I also worked at Baskin Robbins, this wasn't so bad, except that everytime I got the system started the owner had his wife come in and decorate (poorly) the cakes I had spent 2 days prepping.

The short story is that I want to work someplace I can be proud of. And the point in saying I'll do grunt work is to prove that I'm not trying to just learn their business for the purpose of starting my own business immediately. I'm in the job for the long haul.

_christina_ Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 7:14pm
post #6 of 16

Call or go into places you'd like to work, take your book, and be prepared to ask to do a stage (free work for a few days). It may not get you a job but it may get you a great reference.

Try smaller bakeries first, they usually LOVE free help. Let them know what you are looking for and willing to do. They may have you come in for a week to help bake, or make icings. It may not lead to a job but often it can lead to a great reference and a connection in the business which is always important.

My first bakery job was as the scratch baker, which was where I wanted to be. The lead decorator asked for my help one day making a figure amd the next thing I knew they hired a new baker and I was the lead decorator's backup. When she went out for maternity leave, I was the lead. And during wedding season! I never really liked decorating until I learned how to do it properly...oh, and to quit judging my work until I was done but that's a different story.

IsaSW Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 7:16pm
post #7 of 16

So, why can't you get any other job to pay the bills? and then slowly start your own business, if you want to decorate cakes, buy dummies, make them beautiful at night, after your 9-5 job is over, dump your creativity there, take a picture, start your own website, start telling your friends you will do their birthday cakes for just the cost of the ingredients.
That is how I started, I am graphic designer with a job at a publishing company, doing layout, boring! so my creative juices needed a place to go. I took some wilton classes, then I started volunteering for every birthday cake in my office, so I could experiment every new technique I learned, or wanted to learned. I was free to do anything I wanted, because it wasn't an order. It was me, wanting to make a beautiful cake. 7 years later I had enough experience and the desire to make wedding cakes.
Still at the same job, because this job pays the bills, and behind the scenes I am creating 10 cakes for my next project, in our new house I want to have a show room.
2 Years ago, I dreamed of participating at a bridal show, I had 6 months to prepare, I made 7 dummies, and that is how I started. I have done 3 shows so far.
Still trying to figure out how or when will I leave my full time job. But in the mean time, every extra penny in my hands goes to my dummy cakes for my future showroom. I am having so much fun!
Sometimes you need a job to pay the bills, and some extra hours to let your creative juices flow.
Find the way!

EnjoyTheCake Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 7:40pm
post #8 of 16

I was under the impression that custom bakeries needed skilled help.
I am skilled eager and willing.

Christina, thank you for those suggestions, that may work.

Carolina, I don't have the space to make dummies and store them for later. I don't have the extra income to spend on fondant and icing for the purpose of just taking pictures. I also don't have any family in the area and most my friends are already cakers so offering to make their cakes is sort of pointless since they are doing the same thing.

I am looking for any job, but I figured if I can find a job in the industry then why not do what I love and make money doing it instead of settling for something just to pay the bills. I have been fortunate and have not had to work outside of the home for the past couple years. Now I have a weak resume and very few recent references.

Maybe it's just too much to expect that custom bakeries want help from someone willing to work who also has some talent.

_christina_ Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 9:01pm
post #9 of 16

You have to understand that while you have some experience, you're still going into a place that does things differently and the owner will have their own esthetic and way doing things. New employees take a lot of capital, $ and time. Most large, custom bakeries don't have time or want to deal with it until they have to.

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 9:13pm
post #10 of 16

Don't be shocked if you happen to land a job at a custom bakery only to find out that they use cake mix or frozen cake and get all of their icings and fillings from a bucket or sleeve. Many of the higher volume custom shops do just that.

Best of luck!

EnjoyTheCake Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 9:36pm
post #11 of 16

Piece of Cake - I'm not naive to the fact that custom bakeries have to get ingredients and product in bulk. But the mind set is still a lot different than what you find in a grocery store bakery.

Christina - Thank you for your input, I really appreciate the time you've taken to give your feedback.

metria Posted 8 Jul 2010 , 11:59pm
post #12 of 16

what culinary program are you considering? I was looking at ACC's, but don't know anyone who has any first-hand experience from them.

jenmat Posted 9 Jul 2010 , 12:19am
post #13 of 16

Hi Deb~
I too started out in large store bakery. Walmart, to be exact, and I couldn't have been happier with my experience. The cakes I did weren't always the MOST creative I could do, but man, the speed by which I learned to do them gave me experience so when I made the switch to a custom shop, they fell all over themselves to employ me.

The main thing I would look for in a decorator is a WOW portfolio.
Hate to say it, but you're going to have to suck it up and get at least one tiered set of dummies that you can wash and reuse. Before I went to the custom place, I had about 75-100 pictures of just wedding cakes. Then another whole book of celebrations. I walked into the shop, plunked down my portfolio, told them my experience, love for the art, speed and my references. Then I gave them my card and told them to call me when they needed help. I got that call pretty fast. They weren't even advertising, but I had made an impression on the owner, both with my speed and my portfolio.

A custom photographer would never hire help unless you could show him or her a great deal of evidence of your talent. So, you're going to have to do the same thing anyone in the arts field would have to do.

EnjoyTheCake Posted 9 Jul 2010 , 2:25am
post #14 of 16

Metria - I'm going to attend Culinary Academy of Austin. Great price, great staff and small classes.

Jentreu - I don't have hundreds of wedding cakes, but I have been taking pictures of all the cakes I've done. Not all are spectacular, but I have several pictures.

I don't put all my cakes on Cake Central. I just find the the process of uploading photos here not as easy as another site I use to catalog my cakes. All of my images can be seen here.

I appreciate all the input I'm getting. I'm still looking and will continue to look for not only a cake job but any job to help pay the bills.

KoryAK Posted 9 Jul 2010 , 3:58am
post #15 of 16

I think a lot of custom type places are small without a lot of turnover and a need to turn out perfect product all the time - I know my shop is like that - and that makes it VERY difficult to get in the door. I don't have a lot of time to train people and I sure a sh!t don't have the budget to do it on the clock! lol

What we DO do is "hire" interns. I have had a few interns turn into full time employees. It would give you a chance to get your foot in the door and show them what you are made of without any risk on their part. If you are good, it should segue into a paying job as one comes open. We do ours 2 4 hours shifts per week, so it's not something that needs to impede your ability to work a joe shmo job to pay the bills. Worst case scenario, you can say "oh I interned at x, y, and z fancy bakeries!" when you apply for paid positions.

IsaSW Posted 9 Jul 2010 , 1:36pm
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Quote:

The main thing I would look for in a decorator is a WOW portfolio.
Hate to say it, but you're going to have to suck it up and get at least one tiered set of dummies that you can wash and reuse.




I agree, without the portfolio they won't hire you.
You might have to intern for a while, I am sure everybody wants free help. No portfolio required there.

I feel like you want the job and you want it now! It might take some time to get that, even if you are good at it. How would they know?
Get those pictures, you need to show them your skills. Yes this takes time, but if you really want the job, you will make it happen.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%