What's The Best Benefit In College? Finding A Mentor
My career really got going with my first corporate food job when I experienced the power of having a mentor. It was the first time a superior at work took a real interest in where I was and where I wanted to go professionally. I had my work ethic, ambition, some knowledge, and plenty of food service experience, but I was wary of the process of climbing the corporate (career) ladder. My mentor and I had frequent conversations that brought into focus a growth mindset that helped propel my career in the same company from Retail, Catering, and Vending Manager, all the way to Vice President of Culinary. With each successive position I took on, I sought out mentors both formally through the company and informally through professional networking, all to learn new skills and make new connections.
I worked in several small foodservice operations before signing on with Compass Group (6th largest employer in the world before 2020) and the small operators had no formal or informal mentorship programs. How is someone in the foodservice industry supposed to find a trusted advisor to help them with their career? Wouldn't it be great to have that kind of support in place when you're planning out your career and making decisions about your professional future? That is exactly what GLEAM's Industry Student Mentorship Program-ISMP does: connect mentors who are advanced in their careers with college students looking to enter and grow in the Food Service Industry.
The ISMP program is unique because it works with higher education institutions not only to match mentors (who are foodservice industry experts and often alumni) to mentees (students) but also follows a curriculum that helps guide students toward success. Each mentee defines the "One Big Thing" they want to achieve through the program; the One Big Thing could be any professional goal, unique to each student, that they wish to develop with the counsel and guidance of their mentor. Mentors and mentees are then introduced to each other and given a timeline to complete the One Big Thing. The mentor and mentee agree on a meeting schedule (typically twice per month, though often there is additional communication by email and/or text between meetings) and together work on developing the One Big Thing. They create a plan and pathway for success, which usually means taking the idea or concept and defining steps to advance them toward the goal. Students have 10–12 weeks on average to complete their One Big Thing. The program culminates with video presentations (accompanied by a slide deck/PowerPoint) demonstrating what students accomplished with their mentors.
At GLEAM mentees learn from mentors — those in the industry who have already built success and they can share their insight with students. The benefits are many: not only do students learn to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience to a clear direction and actionable path forward, but often the relationships formed between the mentor and mentee last long after the cohort is finished.
Being a mentor to foodservice students is very exciting and rewarding! Listening to student ideas, helping them shape their path forward, sharing your experiences and lessons in a learning environment that goes beyond the classroom — this is the best "real" education they can get.
Are you ready to be a mentor? Send us an email at Support@Gleam.Org
Chef Jared Becker CDM, CFPP has over 20 years of culinary and foodservice operations experience in the restaurant, country club, healthcare & senior living, B&I, K-12, and higher education sectors. Jared is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, holds a bachelor's degree in Food Service Management from Empire State College and an MBA from Fitchburg State University. He completed his internship with Norwegian Cruise Lines and continued his culinary training at ICIF (Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners) in Asti, Italy, and concluded the program with a 3-month stage at a local trattoria.
Jared's professional education includes membership in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) for over 20 years as well as in the Association of Nutrition and Food Service Professionals (ANFP), where he is credentialed as a Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) and a Certified Food Protection Professional (CFPP).
Jared is currently working in Boston as the Director of Operations for Tiny Spoon Chef where he supports a team of Personal Chefs who provide meal solutions to families and help them solve the "What's for dinner?" question in a balanced nutritional, local, and customized way! When not working with the team Jared enjoys learning about food and traveling. He has been to 27 countries around the world, loves smoking foods at home, and most importantly, enjoys spending time on Square Pond in Maine with his husband and their 7yo twins and dog.
If you are reading this and enjoyed learning about my journey and want to connect, I'm active on LinkedIn and would enjoy connecting with you. Please feel free to reach out.