I've always had mixed feelings about internships as someone who has been undecided on a major for a while. However, after freshman year of college, I wanted to get some real-world experience. While I don't know what I want to do in life, I do know that I love food. Luckily, I found an internship with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises that allowed me to pursue my passion while discovering the industry side of food and restaurants.

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is one of the biggest restaurant companies in the nation. Their restaurants range from trendy taco bars to snazzy steakhouses. Located in Chicago, I was entering one of the greatest food scenes in the world with some of the most important people in the restaurant industry.

This internship fell under the category of "Restaurant Management," but I might call it something more like "The Everything You Would Ever Want to Know about the Restaurant Industry" internship.

The Breakdown

Each intern (there were about 60 of us) was assigned to a specific restaurant. I was assigned to Wow Bao, a fast-casual Asian concept that serves up hot and steamy buns. The first month of my internship was learning all the ins and outs of Wow Bao. I had to master how to make everything on the menu, be a speedy cashier, and make sure the dining room was in check. The best job? Taking the trash out four blocks away. Kidding.

Samantha Aronson

While steaming bao and making rice bowls was fun for a few days, I felt like any other employee. It was frustrating. But, I realized to understand anything in the restaurant industry, you have to understand the basics at a very micro level. After the first month, I was finally ready to move on to the bigger picture of the restaurant industry.

Favorite Part: Music Festivals

Bigger and better things meant music festivals. I had the opportunity to work as a food vendor at Lollapalooza, Windy City Smokeout, Pitchfork Music Festival, and even the Pokemon Go Festival (not a music festival, but still wicked weird and cool). Basically, I ran around like a crazy person for three or four days at a time.

Samantha Aronson

The most exciting part of all was that I had responsibility. I ran the Wow Bao tent at Windy City Smokeout. My job at Lollapalooza required the hardest worker and quickest thinker. Free food was my reward, so I would say it was definitely worth it.

Samantha Aronson

Between the festivals, I also got to take on more administrative responsibilities. I helped plan catering events, updated handbooks, and even made training videos for Wow Bao to use across the country. I also became really, really good at using the Kinko's copy machines, as any intern should. 

When I was not working, I went out to eat at other Lettuce Entertain You restaurants with my friends. Some of my favorites include Stella Barra Pizzeria and HUB 51. I made connections with the managers, ate amazing food, and began to notice that I would never be able to unsee everything I had learned about restaurants.

Samantha Aronson

The Project

Over the course of the summer, the interns also worked on a massive restaurant concept project. Essentially, we had to come up with a business plan in groups of five for a new restaurant that the company did not already have. What we did in two months is what restaurateurs do in a year.

My group's concept was Cuban food with an impressive rum bar. I was in charge of accounting. I priced each dish down to the last grain of salt—literally. I had zero accounting experience before the internship, and I came out with an entire pro forma financial statement. At the end, we presented to the executives and partners of the company's restaurants.

Samantha Aronson

At the end of this internship, I realized that I had learned more about the restaurant industry than I could ever have imagined. While I can't say for sure that the restaurant business is for me, I now have some applicable experience, skills to add to my resumé, and an even deeper passion for food.