Eric Thompson-Bey at working in the kitchen at Diner in Adams Morgan
credit: Flickr

Life is getting better and better for me. I’m working at a restaurant in Adams Morgan that’s called the Diner. I’ve been working here since Dec.2 on externship through a culinary program named Real Opps. I work here 30 hours per week washing dishes and receive a stipend from the Real Opps program for 19 of those hours. 

When I went to the Diner for my interview, the general manager told me that the only position open was for a dishwasher; I accepted. I learned through Chef Terrence Brown of the Real Opps program that when we do get hired by a restaurant that most likely we may have to start from the bottom. My goal is to one day move up to another position so that I can utilize my skills and learn as much as I can so that I can move even further. 

To get to where I am now, I had the help of two organizations: Housing Up and Thrive D.C. Housing Up, which is affiliated with the apartment building where I live, has a job-readiness program in which I participated. They referred me to Thrive D.C., which is were the Real Opps culinary program is located. The Real Opps program gave me the necessary skills to work in the food-service business. During my internship, I worked under Executive Chef Terrence Brown, who teaches us how to cook and helped us study for our food handlers license. I earned mine in December.  

The second phase of the program is doing an externship in a restaurant for three months, in which we receive a stipend every two weeks for hours worked. The goal is to get hired by the restaurant at the end of externship, so I can use my skills and maybe become a food manager. 

This whole process started for me last July. My externship ends March 2. Then the decision will be made as to whether I will be employed at the Diner. Hopefully I am. If not, I have the skills to keep going.