The Search for Food, And How I Found It
The simple question of “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” has loomed over our heads for as long as we can remember, and I’m sure most of us faintly recall our first answer. I know mine was veterinarian “so I can play with the puppies,” but that dream was soon killed once I realized I would need to dissect animals in vet school. (The horror!)
And like most questions, the answers became harder to find as years passed and we realized how many options there are in the world. Doctor, teacher, fireman soon grew up – for Babson students especially – to Marketing Director, Chief Operations Officer, Asset Management Analyst and all the other crazy job titles we had no clue about just a few years prior.
On top of that, as if career exploration isn’t difficult enough, it can be a challenge for some Babson students to figure out what the heck they actually want to do when everyone else is either rising the ranks of the corporate world or getting funded for their first start-up. It’s true that business is a very broad field, but that doesn’t stop the occasional feeling of being stuck when you’re not a finance, accounting or entrepreneur geek.
During high school, my two loves were restaurants and journalism; two fields that are known to be barren of profit. But within my Senior Fall scramble when society decides it’s time for an 18-year-old to decide their future, my logic told me that within journalism I could be a writer, Editor-in-Chief, broadcaster, “sky’s the limit” and all that, while restaurants just meant being a penniless restaurant owner. But holy focaccia, was I wrong.
Fast forward to my arrival at Babson with the steady notion to concentrate in Marketing so I could have that shiny PR/Marketing background so many media companies desired. But what’s this, Food Sol? A food entrepreneur action tank within The Lewis Institute? Of course I’m staying loyal to my journalism dream, but hey I could just give it a peek…
And from there my career path shifted entirely! I discovered that the food service industry was challenging, diverse and ever-changing, especially with the emergence of fast-casual and quick-service models. I found a community of people so passionate, life-loving and fun while still caring the most out of anyone. I uncovered a plethora of job opportunities and corners of the field that were begging for talent. I was hooked.
After weekly attendance and a budding relationship with Food Sol’s director Rachel Greenberger, I accepted an internship with a restaurant consulting firm in Cambridge called RealFood Consulting in which the Director of Operations is a Babson alumnus, Peter Venti ’16. There I learned all the different job descriptions for the restaurant world (“What?! There are restaurant architects, and restaurant lawyers?!”) which only catalyzed my hunger even more.
Returning to Babson for my sophomore year I gabbed away to my peers about my summer internship and love for the hospitality industry, and some thoughtful soul – I still can’t remember who it was, so if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! – told me to connect with another Babson alumnus, Chris Quach ’15, who works as a line cook at Untitled at The Whitney, one of the fifteen restaurant concepts by Union Square Hospitality Group. I spoke to him, he told me about the USHG summer intern program, and soon enough I was running food and completing manager trails at USHG’s Blue Smoke & Jazz Standard this June and July!
Now, these past two paragraphs were not meant to be aimless name-dropping. They were meant to be purposeful name-dropping. Meaning, I really want to highlight that for those times in which it feels like Babson and business in general is just not for you, do not give up! More often than not, those creative or abstract interests of yours already exist within Babson, you just have to find them! My past two internships were not listed on Handshake or CareerCenter, they were found by my own networking and pure curiosity. Although it may not be the easiest route, it is entirely doable to take the first step and hustle to find those connections to boost you into the industry.
I suggest searching through Babson’s alumni directories, googling job titles in industry articles, roaming LinkedIn’s search results for Babson alumni, attending random lectures or events that relate to a career field you may be interested in, and above all having the courage to keep exploring! Respect yourself enough to really fight for what you want, because in the end you owe it to yourself to answer your childhood question: “So what do I want to be when I grow up?”