Internship Helps Culinary Arts Academy Graduate Change His Life’s Course


Internship Helps Culinary Arts Academy Graduate Change His Life's Course

Rafael Melendez (r.) with his mentor Mr. Alessandro Rey Bermudez
Rafael Melendez graduated from Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School in June 2015.  Mr. Melendez has received various work opportunities via Capital Workforce Partners since he was a freshmen in high school such as landscaping, working with foreign adults in the Literacy of Greater Hartford volunteer program and most recently J. Renee Roasters.  His career goals were to become an automotive technician.
During Mr. Melendez’s senior year in high school he was placed in a Spring internship (2015) at J. Renee Coffee Roasters by Culinary’s Community Partnership Liaison staff, Mr. Alessandro Rey Bermudez. 
Mr. Bermudez distinctly recalls Mr. Melendez apprehension in having an internship of this nature because Mr. Melendez did not have an interest in this field.  In the words of Mr. Melendez, “I don’t think I ever want to be a Barista”.  However, Mr. Melendez faced his concerns head on and gave it a shot.  Within no time, Mr. Melendez was indeed a Barista!  When asked what he learned from the spring internship program, he stated “it was not about the money… was about the experience”.  This experience alone has been life changing!”
In addition to building a great rapport with his manager, he learned about professionalism, team work, problem-solving and customer service.  He learned about the cycle of coffee and was one of the presenters at J. Renee Roasters Cupping Event in which he presented to Hartford Public School staff, Capital Workforce Partners, families, friends, and other professionals in the field.  According to Mr. Melendez, this experience alone gave him confidence as he never felt he was a good speaker let alone, a presenter.
It was the relationship with his manager/owner who changed his “mindset” to no longer consider a career requiring a certificate but to pursue a degree.  Mr. Melendez applied to Manchester Community College and was accepted into the Engineering science program.  He was offered full-time employment with J. Renee Roasters as a morning baker where he prepares expresso drinks, artisan coffees and takes part in the daily operations of the business.  Mr. Bermudez is quoted in saying, “to go from an internship with a set number of hours into a full time job while attending college full time is pretty impressive and speaks volumes to his work ethics.”
Mr. Melendez is currently attending Manchester Community College full-time.  Once he obtains his Associate degree from Manchester Community College, Mr. Melendez plans to transfer to Central Connecticut State University or University of Connecticut to further his studies and obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering.  When asked what he would tell other students about the internship program, he stated, “Hard work can really be rewarding.  Not everyone will leave high school as a millionaire, but it can be obtained with hard work.  This is why I live by the motto from Star Wars, ‘There is no try, there is do or do not.’”

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