NEW BRUNSWICK - Promise Culinary School (PCS) students recently traded their white aprons for street clothes and turned their focus from food to life skills, as they began the process of launching their professional careers with the help of a leadership team from Wegmans, one of the region’s most respected supermarket chains.

Led by Kyle Butta, a hospitality area manager for Wegmans, the eight-member New Jersey-based team ­of store management and human resource specialists spent three days with PCS students at the New Brunswick school. They worked with them on interviewing and life skills they’ll need when they venture into the job market after graduation. The program was provided at no cost to the school or students.

“We were challenged by our divisional leadership to develop a project that makes a difference in our communities we serve and in the lives of others,” Butta said.

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The classes were designed to teach students about skills and techniques focused on gaining employment for a career opportunity.  The team designed all the digital and printed materials, including learning guides in English and Spanish.

The program included four modules taught over three days: resume writing, application process, interviewing and a review session.

“We asked the group for their honest feedback, and mock interviews seemed to be what the class was most excited about,” said Butta. “It was such an amazing experience for our team. We hope to be back for the next semester.”

Michelle Wilson, executive director of Elijah’s Promise, which operates Promise Culinary School, said the Wegmans program helps the school fulfill its mission to prepare unemployed and under-employed individuals for skilled jobs in the food industry.

“By sharing their professional knowledge and guidance, Wegmans makes it possible for us to offer the job-search skills our students will need when they graduate.”

Yvette Molina, coordinator of social services for Elijah’s Promise, said students benefited from the experience. “They were very happy to learn these skills first hand from professionals in the food industry.”

Culinary student Zander Strika, 20, said the Wegmans program helped him with skills he’ll need to get a job in the culinary field. “They pointed out things about myself when interviewing that I didn’t realize, and showed me how to present myself and how to create a resume.”

Promise Culinary School offers state-certified culinary and baking programs. It has more than 1,000 graduates, with over 86 percent finding sustained employment in their respective culinary fields. The school educates a diverse student body with affordable classes taught by professional faculty with deep experience in the field.

The Wegmans team will return to the school again on April 2, but this time they’ll be cooking with the students “for a fun development day,” Butta said.