Question For Cake Shop Owners

Business By brynn5241 Updated 23 Jul 2010 , 4:54pm by katev17

brynn5241 Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 3:36pm
post #1 of 17

I'm currently a Junior in college as well as a full-time receptionist. My dilemma? I spend about 80% of my free time reading articles about cakes, baking cakes, looking at tutorials, etc. I'm about a year and a half away from getting my Bachelor's Degree...but this "caking" has really got ahold of me icon_eek.gif . I've taken the Wilton courses and looked into a few "conventions" and private classes here in Michigan, however after paying tuition and books, my spare money is pretty minimal and these classes cost upwards of $400 for a couple hours.

Bottom line question for the bakery owners:

Would you be willing to "barter" a few tips/pointers/skills to have someone come in voluntarily and help you in your shop a few hours per week? Whether it be mopping, dishes, or just having an extra set of hands around. I'm determined to own my own bakery one day-but financially (as well as my current skill level) I'm very far from that day. I came up with this idea as a way to keep my passion for this alive and also to get some first hand experience for what it will be like. I ran the idea by a few of my friends as well as my boss and they've all told me to "go for it!" However, I wanted to ask you ladies because I know a bakery can be very hectic, and maybe I'm not seeing all the areas of gray. All opinions are very appreciated icon_smile.gif

16 replies
emrldsky Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 3:55pm
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by brynn5241

I'm currently a Junior in college as well as a full-time receptionist. My dilemma? I spend about 80% of my free time reading articles about cakes, baking cakes, looking at tutorials, etc. I'm about a year and a half away from getting my Bachelor's Degree...but this "caking" has really got ahold of me icon_eek.gif . I've taken the Wilton courses and looked into a few "conventions" and private classes here in Michigan, however after paying tuition and books, my spare money is pretty minimal and these classes cost upwards of $400 for a couple hours.

Bottom line question for the bakery owners:

Would you be willing to "barter" a few tips/pointers/skills to have someone come in voluntarily and help you in your shop a few hours per week? Whether it be mopping, dishes, or just having an extra set of hands around. I'm determined to own my own bakery one day-but financially (as well as my current skill level) I'm very far from that day. I came up with this idea as a way to keep my passion for this alive and also to get some first hand experience for what it will be like. I ran the idea by a few of my friends as well as my boss and they've all told me to "go for it!" However, I wanted to ask you ladies because I know a bakery can be very hectic, and maybe I'm not seeing all the areas of gray. All opinions are very appreciated icon_smile.gif




I think most people would consider you an intern under those conditions. You can negotiate the terms of your internship with the shop owner. I would just start calling local places and ask if they would be willing to take on an intern and see what's said.

Good luck!!!

all4cake Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 4:05pm
post #3 of 17

There are bakeries that take in interns...maybe you could look into ones in your area...(non-paying/low low paying position)
I told my daughter I was considering doing just that yesterday.

(I had one person inquire about me hiring..."I don't know anything about baking or cake decorating. I was hoping that you could teach me. I'm a fast learner. All you'd have to do is show me once or twice." insert 'wth?!'-is-she-for-real-face here. I envisioned a person standing at my elbow watching me as I worked my ass off, handing over a paycheck, then this person go off and become my competition...no. she seriously said some stuff that gave me that visual. What your compromise was was more what I had in mind....a trade off...grunt work(and no, not even all of it) in trade for hands on learning....that I'd go for.

all4cake Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 4:09pm
post #4 of 17

emrldsky, I'm slow...I must've been typing while you were posting.

brynn5241 Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 4:31pm
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake


(I had one person inquire about me hiring..."I don't know anything about baking or cake decorating. I was hoping that you could teach me. I'm a fast learner. All you'd have to do is show me once or twice." insert 'wth?!'-is-she-for-real-face here. I envisioned a person standing at my elbow watching me as I worked my ass off, handing over a paycheck, then this person go off and become my competition...no. she seriously said some stuff that gave me that visual.




This is exactly the message I want to AVOID sending. I'm not looking for any kind of financial compensation. I'd just really like to improve my skills. Do you think it would be best to call? (Sometimes when I get nervous on the phone I can become a bit "wordy" and wouldn't want to throw someone off.) Would an e-mail be appropriate? Or maybe to stop into the shop and offer a resume and explain my intentions that way?

all4cake Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 4:46pm
post #6 of 17

I think a walk-in like you described would be ideal...Tuesday (if they're opened Mondays) or Wednesday would be ideal IMMHO That way they're not readying the shop for the beginning and are not yet into crunch time for the weekend. Even if they haven't pondered the idea, it may be something they'll consider if you leave your resume and intentions for them to look over and think about. Just be prepared for some to be apprehensive and protective like.

The incident I mentioned clearly stated income was necessary and that no skills whatsoever were held aaaaaand the reason a bakery was the choice was because, "I watch those shows and think it's something I'd like to do." No kidding on my part there.

EllieA Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 5:58pm
post #7 of 17

I have always loved baking and I passed that love to my daughters. One of them graduated from Harvard Medical and the other one is at Columbia Law School. Do you know how they made/make their money while studying? At the beginning of the school year, they got the list of parents and birthdays of all the students (Admissions will give it to you), then, one month before the birthday of the student, they (I'm going to speak in present tense even though my eldest is out of school and only bakes occasionally now). They send a letter asking the parents if they want their kid to be presented with a birthday cake and, oh, by the way, do you want the $55.00 dollar package? (cake and a song), the 65.00 dollar package (cake, song and balloons, or the $ 75.00 dollar package (better cake, song, balloons and a gift card from the store of their choice). They would prepare the batter on weekends so the baking was easy during school days. None of them have ever asked us for pocket money (as opposed to their brother who is always asking, is always broke and oh, doesn't bake!), and are expert bakers and entrepreneurs. Why dont you try something like that for yourself?

EllieA Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 5:59pm
post #8 of 17

I have always loved baking and I passed that love to my daughters. One of them graduated from Harvard Medical and the other one is at Columbia Law School. Do you know how they made/make their money while studying? At the beginning of the school year, they got the list of parents and birthdays of all the students (Admissions will give it to you), then, one month before the birthday of the student, they (I'm going to speak in present tense even though my eldest is out of school and only bakes occasionally now). They send a letter asking the parents if they want their kid to be presented with a birthday cake and, oh, by the way, do you want the $55.00 dollar package? (cake and a song), the 65.00 dollar package (cake, song and balloons, or the $ 75.00 dollar package (better cake, song, balloons and a gift card from the store of their choice). They would prepare the batter on weekends so the baking was easy during school days. None of them have ever asked us for pocket money (as opposed to their brother who is always asking, is always broke and oh, doesn't bake!), and are expert bakers and entrepreneurs. Why dont you try something like that for yourself?

all4cake Posted 21 Jul 2010 , 6:08pm
post #9 of 17

My youngest son and my oldest grandson are the only ones interested in the business. It would've been beyond awesome to have all 4 of my kids into it. They had other things to do that didn't include desserts.

I love that idea you shared with OP about your daughters!

bakingpw Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 1:02am
post #10 of 17

As a bakery owner/pastry chef (now retired) I took several "interns" that began just as you have stated. I never paid, but I spent my time teaching them everything I knew in appreciation of their hard work. (A couple weren't hard working and I fired them - yes, fired volunteers!!!) I wasn't worried about creating competition but I did stipulate they were not to make copies of my recipes. (I actually ended up hiring a couple of them!)

I have often heard (famous) professionals say they would rather teach someone who has not formed their own habits and ideas - I agree with this.

ALL4Cake is right: I only had these "interns" on Mon - Wed., when I had time to teach and they weren't in my way. And, I would never take someone on that had an "know-it-all attitude. Ellie - come to me with your desire to learn and we'd have a deal!

brynn5241 Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 4:34pm
post #11 of 17

Here is the message I wrote in my cover letter, all suggestions on how to improve it would be greatly appreciated icon_smile.gif

I would like to inquire about the possible opportunity of a non-compensation internship within your bakeshop. I am a dedicated Wayne State University student currently working a full-time job as a receptionist. I have explored baking and cake decorating over the past couple years, practicing on my own as well as taking the Wilton courses offered at Michaels craft shop. My skills are minimal in comparison to the professional decorators you employ in your shop; however, I have experience with and understand the fundamentals of cake decorating and baking. As an intern, I would like to volunteer my time to assist you in any tasks that you see fit (cleaning, washing dishes, organizing, etc.) in barter for expanding my knowledge and skills. If this is a position you would be interested in filling, please feel free to contact me at the number listed below. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

CWR41 Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 4:53pm
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by brynn5241

Here is the message I wrote in my cover letter, all suggestions on how to improve it would be greatly appreciated icon_smile.gif

As an intern, I would like to volunteer my time to assist you in any tasks that you see fit (cleaning, washing dishes, organizing, etc.) in barter for expanding my knowledge and skills.




I like it exactly the way it is with the exception of using the word "barter". I personally don't care for the use of the word in this case... internship is enough, and it's clear that internship means to expand your knowledge and skills. I'd suggest removing this "in barter for expanding my knowledge and skills." and end that paragraph with the period after "etc."

Good luck!

bakingpw Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 5:05pm
post #13 of 17

Brynn, If this letter came to me, I might be cuurious, but would probably not follow through. What would catch my attention though, is if you came in to the shop, tasted my product, looked at my books, and asked to speak with me at my convenience. If you said, "I've tasted your product, looked at your photos and am so impressed with your work, I'd like to discuss the possibility of my working for you for free in exchange for you teaching me." Now that, would get my attention! The letetr would leave me with the impression I was one of many bakeries you were just trying to get into. The personal visit would set me apart and the compliment would get "your foot in the door". Good luck!

brynn5241 Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 5:21pm
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakingpw

Brynn, If this letter came to me, I might be cuurious, but would probably not follow through. What would catch my attention though, is if you came in to the shop, tasted my product, looked at my books, and asked to speak with me at my convenience. If you said, "I've tasted your product, looked at your photos and am so impressed with your work, I'd like to discuss the possibility of my working for you for free in exchange for you teaching me." Now that, would get my attention! The letetr would leave me with the impression I was one of many bakeries you were just trying to get into. The personal visit would set me apart and the compliment would get "your foot in the door". Good luck!




I completely understand this. I planned to deliver this cover letter to one bakery in particular. I went to a wedding shower not too long ago and the cake had come from a bakery right down the street from my house. I loved the design and the cake was de-lishh. I was going to include that when I introduce myself in person with the cover letter/resume.

all4cake Posted 22 Jul 2010 , 8:16pm
post #15 of 17

I would actually consider it the way it is. One would need to understand that it may seem one-sided at times (you may feel you've washed too many pans for the amount of learning you've gotten in return)...it should even out in the end.

I would take the letter to mean you don't necessarily want to work for me but for me with for you being the end goal...to fulfill your interest in the field in whatever capacity your goals hold for you.

I wouldn't want anyone to bullshit me..."Oh, I just admire your work. Would you consider retaining me as an intern?" When actually, anyone with the same skill set would suffice. Tell me what you got and what you want in return...plain and simple.

HarrietBakes Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:42pm
post #16 of 17

I sent out a lot of CVs just last week, with a cover letter unique to each business. It was for a similar thing, volunteering my time on a weekly basis. I really really really really want to learn from the best but have had only one reply so far (out of about 10 contacts), saying they'll keep my CV on file.

Oh well! I'm going to send more this weekend and try again in 6 months- a year, maybe going into the actual store and having a conversation. I think this method would probably be the most memorable, OP, if time allows!

katev17 Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 4:54pm
post #17 of 17

Hi there,

We employ 2 interns who are pastry students at a local college. We have a lot of people inquiring about volunteer positions/internships/jobs, but the ones that have always stuck out are those that show up in person.

There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to approach asking about an internship though! I have been approached several times by the same individual who has stated she is planning on opening her own bakery, and would be our competition - but in the next breath is asking if she could come volunteer for us in exchange for our secrets & knowledge. HMMM... let me think about that... Yeah, right.

In exchange for their hard work, we allow the interns to have free reign one or two days a week to practice baking, or to work on new recipes. This has been so great - they are able to perfect their skills for school & get hands-on experience, and in return, both have developed new vegan treats that we are going to be carrying at the bakery in the not-too-distant future!

I think it is a great opportunity and the best way for you to get your foot in the door. Just make sure you don't overwhelm them by making it seem like they will be training their direct competition!

Good luck on the search and don't give up!

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