I have been working in the serving business since I was 16. College has taken up a lot of my time, dedication, and money. So serving allowed me to make fast money and be flexible with my hours. Several of my friends have worked retail as well. When I first started preparing my resume, it made me upset that my work experience took up only 2 lines on my resume for something that took a lot of work and time.
So all those years trying to balance a life between classes, family, unpaid internships, and a part-time job, work experience doesn’t have any relevance what so ever!? Think again! I have learned so much from serving, it would be ridiculous not to sit back and evaluate everything I know now that I did not know before I started working part-time. I am 100% confident that if you have been working retail or serving through college, you have learned the same things I have!
Here are a few key points describing great skills that YOU learned from serving and retail that is beneficial in the real world:
You learned how to deal with all types of people and establish relationships. Sometimes it was easy, other times it was extremely stressful. I love talking to people, but sometimes I’d rather not deal with certain individuals that made my job harder than it should be. At first I used to take things to heart. If a table was being rude towards me, I would think, is it me? But now I know that people are just who they are and sometimes personalities clash. You just have to be yourself and do your best when you are communicating with others who are not like you. You will have to deal with numerous of different people when you establish a career, but now you’ll know how to deal with others with confidence. Bottom line, you have learned to smile and fake it when you needed to or speak up when you felt you were being taken advantage of.
The first few years I served, I would constantly make mistakes on people’s orders. I admit it! I would think it was because I was under a lot of pressure. Then I finally came to the conclusion that I just plain did not listen! Even though I always wrote things down, I would write only what I heard and not obtain the full details. Now that I realized what the problem is, I take my time when taking an order, I sometimes repeat something that might have not been clear, and I ask questions. Now ask yourself, do you fully listen to others?
The host calls in sick with only 8 servers on the floor when there should be 10 and your manager is in a horrible mood. Or you are working returns at an electronic store and a miserable man decides to throw an ink cartridge at your head (this is a true story that happened to my close friend, I couldn’t make that up!) What to do, what to do? Unfortunately, this is life and it is not just part-time jobs that problems like this occur. Fortunately, you can learn from it and become smarter when it comes to problem solving. You have learned to act quickly when problems like this occur and come to a fast solution.
I have heard so many people say how easy serving is, but then I ask them if they have ever served. They simply respond saying no, but that it “looks” easy. You may think you know what it is like to be on the other side, but if you have never experienced something hands on, you’ll never fully know. Everyone interacts with people in the restaurant business and in retail whether we are out to eat or shopping for new clothes. Knowing what it is like to work either job will make you a better person. You’ll know how to treat others who are spending their time serving you while you get to your enjoy a Saturday night with friends. Or to not be rude to the sales associate and destroy the fitting room.
One day when you are working the 9-5 job, you and your co-workers will decide to head to the nearest restaurant and have a meeting over lunch. You’ll appreciate the fact that you are able to sit down and have a great lunch while someone else serves you, even if it is work related. Since it was always you that worked the Wednesday lunch shift and was probably skipping lunch yourself to serve others, now you are in the comfy seat enjoying an iced tea at noon. Before you start complaining of your long work hours at the office, you may consider thinking again. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all and look how far you have come!
So next time you are in an interview and the employer asks about your work experience, you can tell him/her everything you learned from being a savvy part-timer!