There comes a point in time in every teenager’s life when their parents say, “it’s time to get a job.” That, or you cannot rely on your birthday money to keep you afloat for beer runs and late-night fast food trips any longer. When this happens, we have no choice but to buck up and get a job. Many of us turn to, none other than, the food industry.
Restaurants are a great way to break into the world of “working.” And, as many of you know, most restaurants love to hire young adults because – well, we’re quick and we work for crappy pay. And, while we don’t realize it while it’s happening, looking back, working in the food industry can teach you a lot of valuable life lessons that you will cherish for the rest of your adult-life.
1. Work friends can become life-long friends.
A lot of times, when you work in a restaurant, you get to know your co-workers really well. Whether it’s because you’re working double shifts with them, you always know their personal business because they miss a shift or two from life drama or, because you’re there so goddamn much – they become some of your best friends.
A lot of my best friends are people I’ve met working in restaurants – maybe it’s because we bonded over our hatred of where we worked and our bosses, or maybe it’s because we spend so much damn time there together – but, either way, I would never want to live my life without them.
2. The value of a dollar.
Working in restaurants changes a lot about your outlook on money. First of all, you realize how much people spend on food – and, how much money they waste on food. Like, how do people really explain spending $18 on a salad that would cost them $4.99 from the grocery store?
You also learn to budget your money better and don’t go blowing all your hard-earned cash fast on things you don’t really need. I bet you, when you work in restaurants, you’ll see a shirt you really love, but can’t bring yourself to buy it for $30 because you know in your heart, it would take you the effort of waiting on 3-4 really obnoxious tables to make that money back.
3. How to respect other waitresses/waiters and other restaurants.
Working as a waitress, hostess, busboy or bartender really makes you understand how hard the job really is. Also, it makes you practice the art of empathy. You don’t bug out when you go out to eat and things aren’t perfect because – well you’ve been there.
When you go out to eat after working in food service for so long, you relate to the waitress who seems off her game that day – maybe she’s overwhelmed and having a bad day outside of work. You don’t complain when the food takes too long – maybe the kitchen is backed up because it’s so busy. You don’t get mad when the busboy forgets your refill – maybe it’s his first night on the floor.
4. You know exactly how to tip.
There is nothing worse than busting your ass at a table and getting undertipped. When you give flawless service, you deserve a flawless tip (yes, sometimes tipping more than 20%). You know, as a person who works in service, that when you go out – some people deserve more than double tax.
And, you also believe in tip karma.
5. Multi-tasking is your new norm.
When you work in restaurants, you’re always doing 5 things at once. You need to check on table 4, table 3 needs a refill on water, table 6 asked for more ranch dressing, table 1 didn’t get their side dish yet – the list goes on and on and on. But, the beauty of it all is that you know how to get things done, no matter how busy you get.
Being “in the weeds” teaches you how to multi-task and do it damn well – which, will always come in handy in the real world. When you go into a full-time job offer, no matter the industry, knowing how to multi-task will more likely than not, be a way to win over any boss.
6. Your memory will get better and better as time goes on.
Working in the same restaurant for a long time means you grow to know your customers – and their orders. You remember that Susan likes her martini dirty with extra olives. You know Jim likes his steak medium rare – always. You know that Bobby and Katie want to sit at the table by the window. You even remember some customers when they call on the phone and what they’re going to order.
Having regular customers not only means you’ll probably get better tips, but your memory will always be super sharp.
7. Good food always outweighs bad food.
You may have started out in restaurants as a wee-young little lad, but as time goes on, you start to really know what good food is. Sure, you love chicken nuggets and fries, but you also know what goes great with some meals – like what wines go well with certain steaks and how food should be cooked.
Of course you’ll still want your local Wendy’s every now and again, but there’s nothing quite like a deliciously cooked meal.
8. You don’t complain.
Nothing bothers you more than when you go to a restaurant with someone who “doesn’t want a table,” or doesn’t like where they are sat. When you go out to a restaurant, you never complain where you’re sat and you never complain to the help.
You know what it’s like to be short on tables and have somebody want to change their seat, which throws off the entire seating order and leaves you scrambling to explain to the “I want to speak to the manager” lady why she has to wait 10 more minutes for a table.