Career Spotlight - Kenneth (Kenny) Smith

June 27, 2016

How did you begin your career?

I started working at Yale University when I was 18 years old at the Law School as a pot washer, where I worked closely to Chef watching his work which made me want to be more hands on with food. I started to offer a helping hand to chop vegetables for prep. My drive to be more hands on did not go unnoticed. When a grill position opened, I was offered the opportunity and I accepted. I took pride in my grill work as I do with everything, from my work performance with the grill Jim Barnet thought I would be great for the pizza position where I would be making pizzas for all the events that happen at the Law School. I never turned down any opportunity I was offered, my father always told me to learn as much as you can and I live by that. Unfortunately I had to leave the Law School due to some changes being made and I found myself at TD dining in a 30 hour position as a cook’s helper. I enjoyed the work but going from 40 – 30 hours a week was a difference and I needed 40 hours so my time at TD dining wasn’t that long. Between position moves I ended up in a very bad motorcycle accident where I almost lost my life. I had to learn how to do everything over but I didn’t let that stop me. I landed a position back at the Law School for 40 hours and from there things really took off for me. I took the time to teach myself how to design lattes were I am now labeled the best barista on campus. I’ve created a Yale logo that is displayed on a wall in the Kline Biology Tower.

What do you like most about your work?

What I like most about my job is the interaction with the students. I see so many students stressing about classes and making sure that they’re doing well,  I’m glad that I am able to put my heart into making them coffee or a latte to help make them feel a little better. Being able to put a smile on a student’s face from something so simple is the reason I love my job.

What kind of accomplishment tend to be valued and rewarded in this field?

Hard work and dedication pays off! From my hard work and drive to be the best, I am now highly requested for my great work to do events.

If you could do it over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not what would you change?

I would have to say yes and no. When I started working for Yale it was the right move for me at the time and I just became the best at my job. I enjoy the work that I’m doing but I can’t say it is my true career, I have so much more to offer. My first love has always been computers. If I had the chance to do it over, I would have gone to school for Computer Science and also open up my own restaurant, because cooking is something I’ve always been good at.  

What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job (or filed)?

I would say no matter what, be good at what you’re doing and you will be recognized for it. If you work hard and stay determined there is so much you can learn and do.

*Photo courtesy of Elm City Images