So what’s next after your ‘O’ Levels?

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So the 2018 GCE O-Level (Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level) examination results has just been released. You might find yourself asking, “what’s next for me?”.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in your shoes (I was once 16). I’ve been in (at) a blur. I had my ‘O’ Level results in my hands and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any role model that I aspired to be — I was utterly clueless on what I wanted to do. I’ve even thought of taking a gap year to ‘discover’ my calling. I’ve been there, and I’m telling you – it’s perfectly normal. Saying that, let me try to help you out.

I recently started working in At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. Disclaimer: I had never worked in a culinary school before, so I was curious to find out what motivates someone to enrol into one as a student. Of the dozen or so I talked, I found these two particularly relevant and interesting. They are Timberly Ng(19) and Yeow Jingyi(17) from our WSQ Diploma in Culinary Arts (DCA) Programme.

And no, Unfortunately (or fortunately, hey), I’m not a chef instructor.

M = Me (Marissa)

T = Timberly

J = Jingyi

Yeow JingYi from WSQ-DCA-078

M: So, tell me — How did you come to choose to study Culinary Arts after your O Levels?

T: I was 14 when I started my first part-time job. I worked in McDonald’s and then Fish & Co. after. During my time as a service staff, I peeked into the back of house kitchen staff and I thought “Hey, I really want to try that.” So I did and it turns out, I really loved it.

J: I wasn’t very sure what I wanted to do, and I definitely didn’t want a job that’d have me desk-bounded. But I’ve always known that I wanted to do something related to culinary, and that’s why I wanted to take up a cooking-related course in poly. They only had the hands-on in the second year of the diploma. I couldn’t wait that long! I was there for about 3 months before I decided to drop out and join At-Sunrice.

M: Why At-Sunrice?

T: I looked at various culinary schools’ websites online. However, most school sites didn’t really appeal to me. The decision was between At-Sunrice and a local culinary school. I scrolled through At-Sunrice’s website and found myself really drawn to the photos, videos, and digital promotions that was on the home page. I eventually decided to sign up because of that!

J: After realising the culinary course in poly wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I had to search for other options. What attracted me the most to At-Sunrice was the duration of the course. 18 months was just nice for me and everything was straightforward with more hands-on opportunities, compared to other schools. Plus, I get to immerse myself into the industry before the end of the course.

Timberly Ng, WSQ-DCA-077

M: I’m glad that you’re both here! What did your family & friends have to say about you wanting to study a culinary course?

T: My family wasn’t supportive of my decision so they weren’t willing to fund my studies. I had to find my own way to pursue what I wanted, which was why after my O’ Levels I took a gap year to work and earn the money I needed.

M: It must have been tough on you. But sometimes not everyone understands your dreams, am I right? So is there anything or anyone who inspires you?

T: Because I love food, I used to spend a lot of time on YouTube watching food videos & stuff. Sounds lame & cliché, I know!

M: It’s not! Anything can inspire you so don’t be ashamed of what sparked it.

M: How do you think the programme has changed you?

T: Initially, I enrolled into this programme because I was quite sure that I wanted to become a chef. But I don’t think I want to work 12-14 hours daily as a kitchen chef for the rest of my life! I hope to explore food photography and also travel the world doing so. I had an unexpected experience helping out in photo and video shoots at school, after responding to a poster recruiting student helpers. I think that was the push I needed, to start exploring food photography.

I’m aiming to go to the US (United States of America) for my Term 5 Overseas Industrial Attachment (OIA) and once I graduate, I want to start my travel food photography journey.

J: My social circle in the culinary industry has most definitely broadened, and I’ve had the opportunity to try various new dishes, cuisines & ingredients. But most importantly, my classmates share their F&B industry knowledge with me, which has been really helpful!

M: What do you like best about At-Sunrice?

J: It would definitely be the chefs and the people that I’ve met throughout this course. I think I’m quite lucky to have so many friendly and helpful workmates at my apprenticeship site as well.

M: So before we conclude this interview, is there any advice that you would like to give to a fresh O’ Level graduate?

J: My biggest advice to someone who is considering F&B would be to first get some work experience in the industry. You don’t have to be part of the kitchen staff, even being a service crew would give you some valuable insight. There are people who think that this industry is just about having fun so they just step into it. In the end, they might get a culture shock. So having some mental preparation would be good.

Don’t pick a school just for the sake of it because in the end you might find yourself taking the longer route.

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase”

Martin Luther King

If this article speaks to you¸ perhaps this was just what you needed to see today.

For more information on our Diploma programmes visit https://www.at-sunrice.com/professional-programmes/diploma-programmes/

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