As an intern for one of the top well-known restaurant groups, I am one of the few in my LEYE intern class not focusing my studies on hospitality. Soon to be entering my senior year at DePaul, I am studying marketing and economics for my undergraduate degree. One of the biggest misconceptions of the restaurant industry is that it is not a real field to find or hold a career in. I have been working in the industry for three years now and can tell you from my own experience that it is one of the best pools to dip your networking toes in. My first piece of advice to any student on the lookout for an internship is to take a look at any companies they have worked for or work for currently. There is a good chance you may find a quicker way to an intern position. Having resources and references helps so much and can make the search much less stressful.
I have been working for LEYE since January 2012 when I started training for the opening of RPM Italian in downtown’s River North neighborhood right in the middle of all the action. Since then, I have met countless important people and have gained an incredible amount of experience in a very high volume restaurant. Upon learning about the company and their intern program, I reached out to my managers and some of the company’s partners to let them know of my interest in the summer intern program. After applying and being accepted, I was ready and excited for the summer to begin.
Each intern is assigned an hourly position in one of LEYE’s many restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area or a position in the corporate office. Since I already have been working as a hostess at RPM, I knew where I would be stationed for the summer. Along with the hourly position, each week the interns meet once at the corporate office to take part in different seminars and listen to guest speakers from the company. Everything from financials to social media marketing to culinary is discussed in our meetings. The interns are split up into groups and are assigned to come up with a restaurant concept from the ground up that they present to the LEYE partners at the end of summer. The weekly meetings teach interns all the aspects that they should consider to incorporate into their projects.
In addition to the project and work tasks, interns are given a checklist of management responsibilities they have the option of learning about. While interns are not required to complete everything on the list, it is in his or her own hands of how much he or she wants to experience and learn. The more you involve yourself, the better the outcome of the internship as a whole.
A short run down of my day last week on a Tuesday began with an early start and ended later in the evening. First, I met my manager at RPM at 7 a.m. to shadow the opening manager shift. We covered everything from the kitchen line check to food inventory to employee hours, schedules, and mapping out of the dinner shift later that evening. After a long morning and afternoon, the interns met at RPM at 2:30 p.m. for our weekly meeting where the company architect/design coordinator spoke to us about his projects including a briefing on how RPM was created and designed. Then, the groups were given some time during our meeting to discuss details and planning on our projects. After the meeting ended at 5 p.m., I headed home to enjoy the rest of my day since I did not have to host that night at the restaurant.
The great thing about this internship is that it’s flexible enough, and each person can create what he or she wants out of it. If you are interested in learning more about the industry or even just looking to gain some great experience, definitely check out Lettuce Entertain You’s website to learn more about the intern program or available positions within the company. There are currently over 100 restaurants in the company and well over 6,000 employees. The progressive environment and great teams they build keep you on your toes and make for a great time.