GRADUATIONS happen every so often these days. For the last six months, I have attended four commencement exercises where I was the ‘commencement speaker’.

A graduation may seem like the end of a learning journey but in reality, education does not stop as soon as you graduate, it is just the beginning. This is a part of the speech that I shared to graduates of a culinary school. I am certain that eventually, these graduates will soon be entering the world of business, either as part of the workforce of a foodservice establishment or as entrepreneurs themselves. (Please note that this speech has been short-ened).

“I have had more than a hundred talks but the best ones are those that inspire graduates. Today, I wear 3 different hats, and will be talking to you from three different perspectives–one from a point of view of an educator, another from a viewpoint of an employer and the third is from a parent’s perspective. While I am your speaker today in this very important event, remember that this is not about me; everything is about YOU!

Please do not forget the immense learnings we get from your mentors and  instructors. At times, we do not see the extra effort they put in just to make sure you learn more and become better, more skilled and smarter. I believe this time, they deserve your sincere gratitude, so let us give your instructors a round of applause.

Your instructors and mentors are the ones who prepared you to become ready for the real world. This is the world of employment. Maaring ito ay local employment o yun trabaho na gusto ng karamihan– sa abroad.

If you think, schooling is tough, the employment world is more challenging—dito ninyo ipapakita ang lahat ng husay ninyo, kailangan ninyo ilabas ang skills na natutunan n’yo sa sariling sikap at sa tulong ng inyong mentors. Take note that it is not only the job skills that you need to master; it is also important to have a positive attitude.

While you prepare yourself in the real world, please remember to show ‘professionalism’. This is a kind of attitude that is shown at the workplace and in our daily lives. It is manifested in 3 ways– in your image, words and actions.

Before you even get employed, you need to go through screening and interview. This interview is your opportunity to impress your potential employer. You need to show good image as this is the chance that you create a good first impression. Image is not just the way you look and not just about your attire. It includes how you carry yourself, your demeanor, your self-confidence, the way you communicate and the way you conduct yourself.

In the kitchen where most of you will be stationed, you know that before you bring out a dish, it has to be plated well. A pleasant presentation of the dish is important as you want your guests to admire and become interested in it. Similarly, before you get into the doors of your potential employment, you have to impress them first with your image, therefore, present yourself suitably during interviews.

The 2nd aspect of professionalism is the way you communicate. Communication a skill that you must enhance. Thinking that “I do not have to be a great communicator because I just work in the kitchen” is not true.  Remember that when you enter the employment world, you deal with different kinds of people. These are your stakeholders—the guests, your colleagues, suppliers, vendors, management and even inquiries thru social media. There is a need to communicate with them, and you must be good in this communication skill.

Actions is the 3rd aspect where you manifest your professionalism, and these include your social skills and the way you deal with people. This answers the questions ‘do you have manners and do you know your etiquette’? Manners and etiquette must always be demonstrated.

Whether you work in a food service establishment or put up your own café or restaurant, you will be working as part of the kitchen, you need to earn the word ‘Chef’. It is only thru years of experience and expertise that you will only receive it from your peers; and it is never self-proclaimed. This term comes with great responsibility and management skills which includes the way you deal with your workmates. It shows maturity and positivity. Remember that you will be part of the service industry, where it needs people who are knowledgeable, skilled and show professionalism.

Lastly, I would like to speak to you as a pa­rent, but before that, let me congratulate them for working really hard for you. Mabuhay po kayo at salamat sa mga sakri­pisyo para sa mga anak ninyo. Palakpakan din po natin sila.

Graduates, this is a good time for you to show them gratitude. Sana makarinig sila ng thank you Pa, Ma, Daddy, Mommy, Tay, Nay, sa pag-aaral ko. This statement alone gives them joy in their hearts. We can also thank our Tito, Tita or Ate or Kuya na nagpa-aral sa inyo. Thank them but most of all, thank God for all the strength and wisdom and even the challenges that came your way.

Finally, before I end this talk, I want to bring up the topic of self-leadership. This is the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feelings and behavior to achieve your objectives. I mentioned the word ‘intentionally’, it means that you really have to purposely do it. You lead yourself first and eventually start to lead others because you can’t lead others unless you lead yourself first.  You can’t help others unless you help yourself first.

Your professional skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, social skills, marketing or selling skills, customer service skills, research skills, know­ledge, and the right attitude towards work will definitely bring you to success.

Congratulations Gra­duates of 2019. Remember to take pride in what you have become and have faith on how far you will go.


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