What am I in for?
Hi. I'm relatively new to this forum. I've been lurking around and reading stuff but I've only really posted once. I'm a nearly post-grad student at a major university in Columbus, Oh (guess which one) and I've recently made a drastic career change.
I've worked as a caller and then supervisor at a telemarketing call-center for four years, but during much of that time I've dreamed of being a baker. I'm not sure how this got stuck in my head, seeing as I majored in philosophy with the intention of going to law school. I've been trying my hardest to get out of my call center job and follow my dream, and now it's actually happening. I've accepted a job as the night baker at a prominent artisan bakery in the area.
I should start by saying that I have absolutely no real bakery experience except for what I've done at home, and even then there isn't a whole lot. I read baking books like it's my job (I guess it is now) and understand a lot of the principles, but I don't have a lot of practical experience. Thankfully, my employer understands this and hired me more for my passion for the chance to do this kind of work rather than my qualifications. Still, I find myself very nervous about performing adequately with this job. The first month is a training period where I'll learn the work and adjust myself to the hours, and after that, I'm on my own.
I've been told my job as the night baker will be heavily slanted towards shaping and baking, with a little mixing but very little measuring. The bakery staff is split into bread and pastry, so my share of things is exclusively bread. The hours are Tues-Thursday 2am to 9am, and Friday 10pm to 11am. Their bread offerings generally limited to baguettes and demi-baguettes, rustic french loaves, pain de campagne, country italian boules, a light sourdough and a 7-grain whole wheat boule. They also do a braided challah on Fridays. Everything is hand-shaped and baked dark and crusty.
While I'm really excited about having a job where I'm going to be doing what I want to do, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty anxious about the kind of change I'm going to be making. I mean, I'm going from a job where I work 5 hours shifts in the afternoon where I do very little in general, to a job where I have to wake up at midnight doing work my employer assured me will result in rapid weight-loss. So I'm hoping that any of the professional bakers on this forum will read this and maybe give me a few tips. Is a month enough time to gain enough skill to be producing a half dozen varieties of bread by myself? How long does it take for one's body to adjust to working nights? What do you do with yourself on the nights you have off, considering there isn't a whole lot open at 3 am? Anything you feel may be useful to a brand new member of the baking industry, I want to hear.