James McGrath

Culinary Instructor James McGrath

If you want to get better at something, do it over and over. James McGrath , Faculty , The Art Institute of California—Sacramento, a campus of Argosy University

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I graduated college and looked at my career options, they all involved sitting at a desk, working in an office. That wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. So I dove headlong into cooking, something I’d done part-time in school.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

The classroom will never be the same as a professional environment. But our responsibility as instructors is to help students develop good work habits. We simulate the kinds of problems and issues that happen in the industry, so that when students experience them in the real world, they’ll know how to handle them.

How would you describe your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I encourage students to ask questions now, while they’re still in school. I want them to leave with confidence in what they’ve learned so they can succeed in their careers.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

When students work in teams, each one looks at the project from a different angle. They each offer a different perspective. And when they bring all those perspectives together, the end result is better work.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Practice. If you want to get better at something, do it over and over.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Don't be too hard on yourself. Judge your work based on how it’s improved since the last time you critiqued it.