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What I Learned Waiting Tables


Just last week I had a discussion with the parent of a recent college graduate

The conversation quickly turned to the topic of his son not being able to find a job. He lives in Washington, DC, has a degree in communications and had yet to find employment. The only offers he had on the table were for very difficult commission sales positions with no guaranteed salary.

The frustration felt by this parent is not uncommon. A recent report by CBS News has found that more than half of recent college graduates can’t find full-time employment…

So what are these young adults to do?

While the job hunt continues, how can this man’s son not only make a few bucks, but also gain valuable real life experience? Why not hone his communication skills by selling bottles of wine and fine foods at a high end restaurant? The father was puzzled by my comments and immediately replied that he did not spend all of that tuition money so his son could wait tables. The question is, if he is not working anyway, why not?

That was the path I followed during my young adult years. My experiences waiting tables at a coffee shop helped shape the person that I am today.

Why?  Because serving food to strangers teaches you a lot about people. Some are happy and others are sad; some are rich and others are scraping by; some are nice and others are just plain nasty. It was a microcosm of the real world. It was a great place to not only learn about others from all walks of life, but to learn about yourself as well.

In that restaurant I cultivated life skills that became invaluable, such as team work and how to handle stress. Once I applied my newfound people skills to the job, my tips increased and in addition to the real world lessons, I made a very nice income.

An intimate understanding of customer service

But could being a server be construed as a negative on job applications? My answer is a resounding NO. In fact, I believe it gives you an advantage because you can communicate to hiring managers that being in the service industry has given you an intimate understanding of customer service. If you do not provide it, you make very little money and are miserable.

While seeking that first position in your desired career path, don’t turn your nose up at waiting tables, or other service oriented jobs. The tips you earn will help you do much more in life than pay the rent.

 


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