You will be leaving college/university very shortly, and I wanted to be the first to welcome you all the ‘baking business’ - the industry for which you have been studying over the last few years. It is where everything you have been taught within the classroom becomes commonplace within the trade.

All the tools of the trade, ingredients from all four corners of the earth, methods and processes are an everyday occurrence in getting our jobs done - either within a bakery or in a technical allied trades company that wishes to help its clients. Most of the industry’s serious professionals have done that, seen it, and worn the t-shirt before you were born, so please don’t jump into your first employment and tell us what we already know. What we actually do want to know is how professional you are. Are you going to hack it when the going gets tough? Will you roll those sleeves up and join in on the benches when the moulding machine breaks down? And if you utter, “The work-life balance is so important”, please go and find it somewhere else.

The baking industry is a ‘business’: it is there to make money, including profit for the owners who have invested their own money in their business, so they can make more money to reinvest, and make their business better, and also have a good lifestyle for their family. Employing you is a cost – or rather, an investment - from which they will want a return. You will have to make them money, save them money, or a combination of both, and if you cost, more than you make, you will be deemed a bad investment and you’ll be out of a job! That’s life, get used to it.

So please, at your first interview don’t tell your prospective employer what your lecturers have told you you’re worth. Believe me, you’re not… far from it! You are being looked upon as an investment for their business - someone who will bring an advantage.

Now, on the bright side, let’s face it, you are well-motivated and enthusiastic, with youth on your side. You’re young, you’re college-educated and you want to come into the bakery business. So you already have a lot going for you. Don’t blow it at your first interview; just play it cool, learn the daily skills - such as getting out of bed, going to work and being at your position at least 10 minutes before your boss - and leave when he/she does… and not before. And if you have a sniffle, you haven’t got the flu; it’s a sniffle or maybe a cold, so get over it and go to work. If you’re that bad, they will send you home, and you will have demonstrated that you are no push-over.

If you are given a salary, firstly make sure that it equates to the ‘living wage’ levels, within reason. A salary is a payment for performing and completing a task, and must be looked upon as such; it is not hours-related. You, not your employer, are responsible for your own level of remuneration going forward, so knowing what your position is worth within a similar-sized business is a part of your career planning. Before going to your employer for a raise, make sure you have researched your position correctly. A quick guide is to ask whether you are creating or saving at least four times your salary? If you are, happy days. If not, well…

Please remember, ‘the devil is in the detail’ before taking up any position. Know exactly what is required of you. What are your terms and conditions? It should all be in your contract of employment, so read it, thoroughly and don’t be embarrassed to do so. Don’t sign anything without reading and understanding what is written.

For the next 10 years you should be rapidly growing your own worth, so you most probably will have to move employers three or four times within this time-frame. An honourable employer will appreciate this, and guide you accordingly, although it may hurt the business temporarily. If you leave respectfully, then maybe one day you will be invited back at a more senior level.

Welcome to the bakery business. You’ll love every minute of it.