Success story: New specialty certificate will fill high industry demand

August 24, 2022

Entry-level salary: $60,000.

Entry-level vacation: Six months.

That’s what students who graduate with NMC’s new Culinary Arts certificate with Maritime emphasis, a specialty field with high industry demand, can expect.

Culinary student Megan Cook with a cake she baked aboard the Training Ship State of MichiganApproved by NMC’s Board of Trustees Monday, the one-year certificate formalizes an internship program that’s existed for about five years. Students in NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute have interned as cooks aboard the T/S State of Michigan, the training ship for NMC’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy. All have been immediately employed upon graduation, including 2021 intern/2022 graduate Megan Cook (above).

She anticipates finalizing her job offer this week, after wrapping up a second short-term gig in the training ship’s galley. Cook will sail on the Great Lakes for the May–January shipping season, working a 60 days on/30 days off schedule. She’ll earn a salary of between $60,000 and $70,000.

“This is such a great program. It’s going to be amazing,” said Cook, 20, originally from Sylvania, Ohio. “It makes me so happy that all my hard work paid off.”

The shipping industry hopes to find more cooks like Cook. To meet that demand, NMC hopes to enroll 20 students in the certificate program during the first year, 2023–2024.

“Skilled culinary staff is critical to a well-managed vessel. The maritime industry continues to see this need across all areas. I would 100 percent encourage any culinary student who is seeking adventure while honing their craft to pursue a career at sea,” said Jenny Johnson, director of Labor Experience and Recruitment at Crowley. The Florida-based company has hired past GLCI graduates for its shipping division of more than 200 vessels, in addition to recruiting graduates of NMC’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy.

Culinary student Carolyn Fairchild carving meat aboard the Training Ship State of MichiganGLCI student Carolyn Fairchild (left) interned aboard the ship this summer. She says she’s 90 percent sure she’ll seek shipboard employment after she graduates in spring 2023. 

“I really like traveling. It was something different than a normal restaurant,” said Fairchild, 20. A Flint native, she transferred to GLCI from Michigan Tech after discovering how much she enjoyed the hands-on and creative aspects of cooking on a prep cook job.

“You can be cooking every day, but not make the same thing for months, and that’s really appealing,” Fairchild said.

Creation of the certificate is an objective within NMC’s strategic plan. It originated in a yearlong reimagining project for the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, which sought to increase enrollment and improve GLCI’s future sustainability.

“This certificate creates a unique offering that will distinguish the Great Lakes Culinary Institute from other programs. It also gives our students more options and meets the needs of industry,” said NMC President Nick Nissley

It combines and repackages existing curriculum in both the culinary and maritime programs and maximizes assets like the State of Michigan when it is not at sea. Students will take a specialized galley cooking course in the spring semester, the only new course.

“It’s challenging, spacewise and inventory-wise,” Cook said of working in a galley. The course as well as help obtaining maritime credentials will give certificate students a big advantage.

“They’ll get a huge kickstart to being able to sail on a ship,” she said.

More culinary news:

  • Farm-to-table dinners at Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant: September 15, September 29 and October 6. Reservation line opens Aug. 30: (231) 995-3120.
  • November and December happy hours at Lobdell’s, hosted by GLCI’s Beverage Management class. Subscribe to the GLCI newsletter to be notified of dates.
  • New curriculum emphasizing sustainability: Limited waste, local food, and green cuisine.
  • New curriculum emphasizing health and nutrition: Plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy alternatives.
  • New content delivery–two short sessions per semester. Students will take fewer courses at the same time, allowing more concentrated learning and quicker goal achievement.
  • Lobdell’s lunches are paused for fall semester but will return in February 2023.

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