While there’s always exceptions, I find that many of the people I’ve worked with in the professional world who previously had experience in the service industry all have a skill set that helps them excel faster than others. Exposure to different scenarios and personalities combined with good ole’ basic dirty work creates a stronger and smarter work ethic. Basically, we get our sh*t handled and we do it with a smile on our face. Here’s what I learned from working in over 15 different restaurants and bars through high school and college and why I think this has helped my peers and myself advance our careers quickly:
#1 Exposure At A Young Age
Being an employee in the service industry since the age of 15, I’ve learned through experience more than what most people would expect out of a 24 year old. I’ve been managed under several different styles of leadership, I’ve worked with several different coworkers with different types of personalities, and I’ve provided a service to several types of customers. I have a soft spot for waitresses, bar tenders, hostesses, cooks, bus boys – anyone in the service industry, especially at a young age, because you are exposed to a lot and you learn fast what kind of people exist this world. The bubble you live in is soon revealed as just that – a bubble!
#2 Hustle Hard
Have you seen the videos of that couple in the car where the boyfriend asks “Babe, what do you want to eat?” she says, “I don’t care babe, you pick!” and he says “Okay, how about Italian?” she says “ew no way, what else?” he says “okay, what about Mexican?” she says “oh my god thunder thigh city!” and he says “Okay, salad?” and she says “do you think I’m fat?!” and he says “well what do you want??” and she says “I don’t care, I’m just starving, pick something!!” If you haven’t seen the viral videos or memes about being hangry (hungry + angry), then you’re missing out. Point is, when people go out to eat, they are hungry and they want their food or drinks NOW. People in the service industry learn early on that you need to HUSTLE if you want to make money (as you work on tips) and this skill is carried over into a business setting when working with clients or bosses who want things done as soon as humanly possible. Efficiency is KEY to making a customer happy in this setting and is a very useful skill to have.
#3 We Handle It
Angry customers. Overwhelmed managers. Drunk customers. Drunk coworkers. And even sometimes, drunk managers. All of these issues arise when you work in the service industry and at some point you realize what you need to do….you just handle it. Angry customer? Quickly take charge, calm and reassure them that their concern is your top priority and find a solution. Overwhelmed managers? Do your best to not bother them with any issues you or customers are having by finding a reasonable and creative solution. Drunk customers? Call a cab and cut them off. Drunk coworkers? Avoid at all costs. Drunk managers? Start thinking about pursuing another part time job. We are problem solvers and have to get creative amid all the chaos that surround working in a restaurant or bar. Problem solving is a VERY good skill to have no matter what professional industry you end up in.
#4 Ridiculousness Isn’t As Ridiculous As It Seems
Things don’t phase service industry workers as much as workers in other industries because we’ve seen it all. It’s interesting to watch what people are like the moment they get a little liquid courage inside of them. Most people handle themselves responsibly, but some find themselves taking on an entire new persona. Arguments between couples, obnoxious orders to waitresses, demanding more alcohol from a waitress when they are way past the legal limit, fist fights, loud talking or yelling, ridiculous dancing…the list is endless. Being exposed to erratic human behavior makes it harder for us to be surprised or shocked when something is thrown our way that seems either irrational or out of left field. You want a dolphin in your pool by the morning for your daughters 8th birthday? Sure!
#5 Lessons From Doing The Dirty Work
Last but not least, I think having to do dirty, laborious work really does something to you. It makes you appreciate the type of work that doesn’t involve sweeping wings off the carpet, cleaning vomit stained toilets, taking out dirty women’s bathroom trash cans or mopping beer and vodka stained floors. I never enjoyed this kind of work and I don’t know if any sane person does, but it made me appreciate the fact that I worked my way up so that I wouldn’t have to do that for the rest of my life. You have to start somewhere.
I applaud anyone in the service industry and will always be supportive of the work that goes into remaining sane after 14 hour shifts, crazy customers and dysfunctional management. Anytime I see a resume that has experience that includes service industry work, I get excited. Do you have experience in the service industry? If so, how do you feel it’s contributed to your career? If not, what industry did you work in before you started your professional career and how did it help you? I’m curious to know because I am sure there are other experiences out there that are very helpful. Please leave any comments or feedback below! ~XXXO