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Experimental Learning The ready-to-learn intern is a ubiquitous breed today. And culinary institutes are finding that externship and internship programs are a beneficial opportunity for all. By Megan O’Neill F or students in culinary training, getting out of the classroom and into the kitchen is an invalu- able experience. A typical extern- ship or internship program of- fers just this, and the partnership between educational institutions and private businesses provides practical experience, first-hand insight and established connec- tions for all parties involved. The benefits to students are quite ob- vious, with hands-on training, culinary students are going be- yond text books and challenging their teachings, thought-process- es and education, pushing along the way to develop the training and maturity necessary to suc- ceed in a kitchen. Ellie Gottman, student at the Culi- nary Institute of America, completed her externship program at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires But the process is two-fold. Culinary schools look to chefs and restaurant organizations that are dedicated to advanc- ing the profession and commit- ted to students willing to learn. These partners provide an out- let for externships that schools rely on. “The Charlie Trotters of the world love educating students,” says Jolene Birmingham, Sc. D., the Academic Dean at Lexington College. “Chefs that participate want to share their experiences with students and impart the knowledge, passion and sacri- fice it takes to succeed in this industry.” For the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), all students must complete an externship se- mester in which they’re working for an institute-approved site— and with more than 1,200 part- 26 | Chef