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Internship program preps student for culinary career
Julia Johnson 1
Hilmar High School graduate Julia Johnson obtained an internship at Lisa's Cookie Jar after she spoke with Stanislaus Tutoring And Mentorship Program executive director Michael Camara regarding her interest in attending culinary school.

Julia Johnson’s internship at Lisa’s Cookie Jar not only provided her with valuable work experience, it helped make her dream of becoming a pastry chef closer to reality.

As a recent graduate from Hilmar High School, Johnson originally obtained the internship at the local bakery her senior year of high school after she spoke with Stanislaus Tutoring And Mentoring Program (STAMP) executive director Michael Camara about her interest in attending culinary school.

“She was considering attending culinary school, but wanted some practical experience before committing,” said Camara. “So I visited Lisa at Lisa’s Cookie Jar and negotiated internship terms and Julia was taken in on March of 2014.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Stanislaus Tutoring And Mentoring Program has assisted in the development of educational, artistic and recreational opportunities for local youth, which includes placing students like Johnson in internships. The program now serves over 23 schools in nine separate districts across Stanislaus and Merced Counties. 

Johnson worked at the bakery through the summer and continued the internship when she began school at Merced College in August. She is currently pursuing an Associate of Arts in Foods and Nutrition.

“My favorite part about working at Lisa’s Cookie Jar is that I get to do what I love as a job each and every day,” said Johnson. “It gives me an opportunity to be creative and be a part of people’s special days.”

When owner Lisa Fernandes needed more help at the bakery in September 2014, she shifted Johnson’s internship into a part-time position after observing her stellar work ethic and performance.

“This is a fairytale success story for us,” said Camara. “STAMP was able to arrange an internship per request which resulted in employment and very soon, culinary school enrollment.”

Johnson, who plans to continue working at Lisa’s Cookie Jar while attending school, hopes after graduation to transfer to a culinary school in Napa, Sonoma or San Francisco in order to become a pastry chef.

“I think it is important to have a program like STAMP available to local students because it is a perfect way to gain experience in a field one wishes to pursue,” said Johnson. “Overall, my internship with STAMP has given me the opportunity to experience what it is like to work in the field that I am deeply passionate about.”