A handful of Pioneer Valley students are getting a chance to go through the process of landing a real life job.
On Wednesday, about a dozen second year culinary arts students interviewed for a job with Cool Hand Luke’s.
“I interviewed for hostess, buser and (the manager) asked me if I was willing to wash dishes, and I said, heck ya!” said senior Maria Uribe.
Uribe spent part of her lunch hour interviewing with Cool Hand Luke’s management.
“The whole day was nerve-racking, but once I got to meet the manager who was interviewing me, the way she talked made me more comfortable, so it was really great,” said Uribe.
The popular Santa Maria restaurant is looking to fill several open positions.
Ownership said it’s committed to hiring local students, many of whom have never held a paying job before.
“We’re really big in the community and just trying to give the kids the opportunity to do some hands-on training, especially kids in the culinary program who are interested in the field already,” said owner Shawn Van Pelt.
The culinary arts students have all completed job-related coursework preparing them to enter the workforce. It’s part of a real-life educational lesson.
Prior to their interview with Cool Hand Luke’s, they have all participated in a mock interview, completed an application, designed a resume and earned a nationally-recognized food safety certificate.
“Many of those students have never interviewed before, so the fact that they’re going to sit through an interview with someone who might be interested in hiring them, is extremely valuable,” said Pioneer Valley culinary arts teacher Jenn Montanez.
All of the students that interviewed recently obtained the ServSafe Food Handlers Certificate from the National Restaurant Association.
“It’s something that’s required when you are working in or around food,” said Montanez. “All of my Culinary Arts 2 students help run a student-run cafe for all of the staff members here on campus. Before we can open that cafe, they all must obtain that certificate showing that they have knowledge in food and safety, cooking temperatures, so they can cook for the public.”
Cool Hand Luke’s ownership said it’s likely most of the applicants will be brought to the restaurant in the near future for a second interview and it’s possible, most if not all of them, will be hired by next summer.
For Uribe, she’s keeping her fingers crossed.
“This would be my first job and if I would get it, that would be so great. It would give me as a teenager more opportunities to go out. I would have my own money,” said Uribe.