How Molly Gordon '20 Found Her Dream Job (During a Pandemic)

From developing products to teaching knife skills and other cooking fundamentals to high school students, Molly Gordon '20 has a fearless dedication to expanding her skills in the name of advancing her career path. As a recent Applied Food Science graduate from JWU’s Charlotte Campus, she was equally determined not to let COVID-19 halt her job search.

At JWU, product development was a focus for Gordon. She’s most proud of what she created in her Applied Food Science & Technology class. In just 11 weeks, she developed rosemary and garlic ready-to-bake cracker dough, using South Carolina certified ingredients, for a project to produce an item that is not found on your grocery store shelf.

“From creating the logo and formulating proportions and creating the nutrition labels, the final project was 40 pages,” she says. “I could send that binder to a company and pitch my product right now! I personally, with my own two hands, did all of this.”

“Cooking is a scientific experiment itself.”

But she wanted to do more. The South Carolina native had an internship lined up that would have her rewriting an existing curriculum — but she yearned to be in front of students, not behind the scenes. So she reached out to other schools, sharing her enthusiasm over what she learned at JWU and how she could share her knowledge and passion with their students.

“Cooking is a scientific experiment itself,” Molly says. “However, it is so important to cook safely. And with my background in food chemistry and food microbiology I will know the best and most efficient ways to run my classroom. I want to take the learning style I acquired from Professor Robert Lothrop and teach with the extreme passion and knowledge he did.”

“Molly applied to more than one position this spring as graduation is approaching soon. She followed up, which is crucial to getting the interview especially with our current situation,” says Jodi Wood, an experiential education coordinator at JWU Charlotte. “She did her research on the positions she was applying for so that she would be ready to make a decision. We have kept in touch by phone during all of this so I could be a sounding board. She had already done her research so was well prepared for the interview.”

Gordon learned she landed a dream internship with West Ashley High School in Charleston just a week and a half after an interview. As a student teacher, she taught knife skills, sautéing, and more — but not for long in person. The pandemic forced her to teach online, another skill she quickly added to her culinary tool kit. With graduation just a few months away, she started to research career opportunities in the culinary teaching sphere — a specific niche and during a pandemic.

“Culinary art instructor positions are so hard to come by you usually only find openings if a program is just starting or if a lifelong instructor retires. On a normal day I would be nervous about finding an opening, but once COVID-19 hit, I was a bit more concerned.”

Gordon was shocked when she saw the opening at a high school in her hometown of Aiken, so she applied immediately. She quickly landed a contract to teach 9th-12th grade culinary students starting this summer. She says she will teach very specific things she learned during her time at JWU, including the importance of bringing team leaders into the classroom. She adds, “I will be a great recruiting tool for JWU!”

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TOP: MOLLY GORDON '20 (RIGHT) PUTTING HER PASSION FOR SCIENCE TO WORK IN CHEMISTRY CLASS AT JWU CHARLOTTE. BELOW: THE NEW GRAD.

Molly Gordon '20: Charlotte Applied Food Science Grad