When Tenacity Meets Preparation

Tiesha Robinson worked in Guest Services in the hotel industry for 13 years before she enrolled in The Opportunities Inn at Philadelphia OIC.

The Opportunities Inn is an award-winning training program, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. It is dedicated to training people for successful careers in the food services, lodging and tourism ndustries.

Tiesha enjoyed working in the customer facing roles, but her true passion has always been cooking.  She had a flair for cooking delectable meals at home, however she wanted to master the methodology, science and artistry of professional cooking including using advanced equipment and executing the sophisticated techniques that are required for commercial kitchens.

She had heard of the OIC Culinary Arts program taught by our renowned Chef Chalie Schmidt for many years but never had the opportunity to attend because she worked during the day. When she was laid off from her job, she immediately applied to the program. The Culinary Arts program generates a lot of interest and is always in demand.

Expectations are high for students in the program. As a result, The Opportunities Inn has trained several chefs who are award winning and nationally recognized. Initially, it was challenging for Tiesha to grasp some of the techniques, but she was determined to succeed. She took copious notes in class and after class, Tiesha dedicated more time at home to practice her technique and to study.

Her efforts paid off. Tiesha graduated at the top of her class.

“She led by example and encouraged the other students in class to do their best,” said Chef Chalie. He was so impressed with her performance that he recommended her for a new role at an upscale steak house that was being built in the region.

Tiesha landed the job and began the first week of March 2020.

And then, the unthinkable happened. The global pandemic, Covid-19 entered the United States and all businesses were mandated to temporarily close.

Tiesha, not only learned to be a chef at The Opportunities Inn, she also learned to be resilient. She started researching other job opportunities. Ultimately, she landed a role with a catering company whose business was still thriving even in the pandemic.

"I love the fact that her tenacity led her to landing a temporary job while she was on furlough," said Chef Chalie. "She figured it out and that is what this business is about, figuring challenges out."

Three months later,  Tiesha has been called  back to work at the steak house  and within 30 days she was given a raise and promoted to Garde Manger Chef. She loves the company and believes that she will have a longstanding career.

When asked about any challenges or adversity that she had to overcome in the workplace, Tiesha expounded that she “had to learn how to navigate the challenges associated with working in a fast paced kitchen environment and because of her training at Philadelphia OIC she is able to advocate for herself."

Tiesha feels very fulfilled in her new career and she attributes a lot of her success to Chef Chalie and Philadelphia OIC. To learn more about job training programs at OIC, click here.

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Rebuilding the region's hospitality & tourism industry after the pandemic requires more talented and resilient people. like Tiesha. To provide more talented people like Tiesha, with a pathway to success, donate to OIC.