A little too fast-paced.
Cons: overnight hours, disengaged management, very heavy workload
Your typical day as an overnight baker at Panera will have you showing up an hour before the end of regular business hours, pulling dough out of walk in refrigerators to sit before baking, baking, receiving the next night's shipment of dough and other foods, baking, pulling more dough, baking, making pastries, baking, cleaning, baking, scoring bread, – more... baking, more cleaning, last minute baking, and then cleaning again.
It is a lot more work than I anticipated. I was fully aware of the fact that I would be expected to be there overnight by myself (except for during training), and I would be expected to stay until the entire next day's product was baked off. The way this ended up was that instead of working 8pm - 6am four nights a week as per my schedule, I would work 8pm - 730am most nights during training. Now, granted, this was during training. I wouldn't expect to be as fast as I needed to be yet. However, just as I was starting out, we were introducing the new flat breads and mini-cakes, among a couple other things. This increased amount of product challenged even the trainer, who was an almost 20 year veteran of the overnight baking profession. The 6-8 weeks of training that is offered is maybe just barely enough for the most astute, and most likely overwhelming for the rest of us.
Management was there, but more or less negligent of what the overnight bakers did. We told them if we were short product, or if we used more than we were supposed to, but management only really cared that everything was baked off on time in the right amount. Not too hands on, not too involved.
The enjoyment of learning something new wore off pretty quickly as the stress of trying to get everything baked and trying to work out a solid order to the baking process set in. Before I left because of issues I was having dealing with working hours, the night consisted of me running back and forth in the back of the restaurant, stressing over the time while trying to manage 3 or 4 different sets of product at once. It was not at all enjoyable by the 3rd or 4th week, and the amount of stress made me dread going in at night, and miserable while I was there. Had it not been for the conflict I had with the working hours, I most likely would have stuck in there, hoping that sooner or later I would become faster and experience less stress. However, the trainer (the one that had worked as an overnight baker for almost 20 years) informed me early on that every night is as stressful as what I had experienced, and watching her I could tell that she didn't enjoy the job any more than I did.
While the work is relatively unskilled (you don't make any of the dough yourself, you assemble product from dough and other ingredients supplied to you), the work load is a bit too much for 1 person to handle, especially with the addition of new products. – less