From Kitchen to Workplace:  Building Transferable Skills

September 15, 2018 | Leave a Comment

by Polly Abbott, CVRT

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Woman at desk on the phone and using the computer. A set of tools are at hand, including her smart phone, Victor Reader Stream, braille slate and stylus and a set of cooking utensils.

Did you know that preparing a meal requires many of the same skills you need to be successful at work?  Whether you are a young person with vision loss who is cooking for the first time or an adult with new vision loss, mastering skills in the kitchen can mean mastering job skills, too.

 

Hard Skills are Necessary to Get a Job

Cooking for yourself involves many job skills you might not have considered:

  • Using a Phone

    You need to know how to dial your phone and maintain a list of contacts to arrange rides to the grocery store, inquire about store hours or to gather information from family and friends on what to cook or how to cook it.

  • Note-Taking Ability

    Cooking means making a shopping list, writing notes on how to prepare a dish and note what temperature the oven will be set at.  It’s important to be able to retrieve information you take down, whether it’s recorded,  in large print, on a computer file or in braille.

  • Organizing and Labeling

    You must be able to identify what ingredients you already have on hand and strategies for identifying these items in the future.  You might be using high-tech devices like a barcode reader or an app.  Or you might prefer to slap on a large print or braille label.  Carefully planned shopping strategies and storage organization will help you be in control of your kitchen.

  • Mobility Skills

    Cooking means lots of moving.  Mobility skills are needed to move around your kitchen safely and efficiently, walk to the store and gracefully make use of customer service for shopping.

  • Reading and Writing

    You will have to access recipes and navigate the text within them to cook something new — whether you are using large print, braille or electronic text.

  • Computer Skills

    These are optional, but increasingly, one of the best options.  You can make a grocery list or shop for groceries on-line for home delivery.  You can save recipes you like and find new ones on the Internet.  And there are lots of  YouTube videos that can help you learn how to prepare something new.

You will need all these skills in the workplace.  Imagine yourself successfully working in a busy office.  You can call someone you met at a networking event to schedule lunch.  Taking notes during a meeting is a breeze.  You know how to search the web to find the statistics that will make your presentation shine.  The filing system you use that allows you to quickly retrieve the right information.

 

Soft Skills are Necessary to be Successful on the Job

Being able to plan and prepare a meal also involves soft skills that are necessary in the workplace:

  • Critical Thinking and Evaluation

    As a cook, you must evaluate recipes.  Are they within your ability?  Do you have the required ingredients are on hand?  Is there is enough time to prepare it?

  • Setting Priorities, Making a Plan and Following Instructions

    You must learn to judge the consequences of doing one task before another.  A cook learns to pay attention to details, review the recipe as needed and follow directions carefully for a flavorful outcome.

  • Multitasking and Organizing

    When cooking, you must be able to chop or measure while something is simmering on the stove.  Creating a meal means finding the next ingredient safely and efficiently in a calm manner.

  • Problem Solving, Risk-taking and Creative Thinking

    You must learn to be brave enough to make decisions about what to do on the fly.  Not every dish will be a success, but not every dish that has an ingredient creatively substituted will be a failure either.  Cooking helps develop emotional resiliency and fosters a spirit of adventure.

  • Teamwork and Communication

    If you are not alone in the kitchen, you can learn to follow directions and be a competent sous-chef.  A competent second-in-command sous-chef also leads and coordinates tasks with others.  Safety for all and a well-cooked meal depends on good communication skills.

Are not interested in cooking because you expect Mom, the school cafeteria or Grub Hub to take care of your meals?  Please think again about what else you might be learning by gaining the ability to plan, shop for and prepare your own three-course meal.

Do you want to put off cooking lessons because you want to get back to work as quickly as possible?  Think about the lessons as part of your plan. You will gain the confidence to handle the hectic pace of the workplace knowing you are able to chop, slice and sauté in the heat of your kitchen.

Polly is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense

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