I want to be a baker when I "grow up."
Firt off, I apologize that this is definately a repeat topic, but I have a much wider question to ask than the many topics before, so I thought I'd give it a try.
I am currently a hotel and restaurant management undergrad student. I have another year and a half until I graduate. Recently, through my foodservice management class and some lab time in the university union's bakery, I have realized that my dream career is to own/operate my own bakery and cafe. I have been teaching myself to bake at home over the last few months through various websites(KA, The Fresh loaf, etc.) and baking books(I LOVE Peter Reinhart!). I understand the differences inherent in professional/home baking and I am well aware of the failure rate of small businesses, let alone restaurants, let alone bakeries(I am well on my way to a business degree).
My question to the professional bakers on this site is would you please give me any advice you care to give on how to start a career as a baker? I know I need professional training, but do I need to go through a full accredited culinary school, or would somewhere like SFBI professional program be sufficient? What schools/programs would you personally suggest? And what about internships and apprenticeships? I have atleast four years before I can qualify for a government education grants and loans to attend any kind of baking school and would like to get my foot in the door asap to build up experience in the field. (In fact I need 800 hours of applicable hospitality experience in the next year before I can even get my degree). Would you suggest I beg my parents to pay for workshops and such while they're still supporting me(I know I am VERY lucky) if I can't get hired?
I have tried simply applying for any entry level positions in the few bakeries in my small college town, but in this economy they won't hire what they see on my application(very little experience in food service and college student(high turnover rate, bad attitude, etc.)). Do you have any suggestions on how to get hired in the first place? Should I ask to speak with a manager or baker directly(and waste their time)? Should I bring in an example of one of my own homebaked loaves to show I'm not entirely clueless?
Thankyou for reading my extremely long repeat post, and thankyou in advance for any advice. I would be tickled to death to get any advice at all to help me on my way, anything you care to tell me, regardless of if it relates to what I asked or not...