With the abundance of culinary schools in the US now I'm wondering how many graduates actually stay in the professional kitchen? When I graduated the CIA in 1976 @ age 25 there was basically just two well known schools in the US, the CIA and Johnson & Wales, so there were a lot of opportunities for graduates. Even with that, the few grads I've stayed in contact with, none still cook professionally, me included. They've mostly stayed in the food service and hospitality although some have gone on to unrelated careers.
I think many young graduates are disillusioned when they find out how hard working in a professional kitchen is. For every Bobby Flay. Todd English or Mario Batali who live rock star lifestyles there are hundreds of thousands of grunts in the culinary trenches. I transitioned to food sales/marketing after a dozen years working in commercial kitchens. The hours got to me. I wanted to be with family & friends in the evening and on holidays. People always ask me if I miss cooking in restaurants. I tell them no, I still cook do that often.....in my nightmares.