Before I started my sophomore year of college, I thought about trying to find a job that could help me earn a little extra money for expenses during the school year. I browsed around at jobs on and off campus and stumbled upon a restaurant near my university that was looking for servers. I had never worked as a server before and although I didn't really know what to expect, I went in with an open mind and ready to see what I could take away from this job. During my time working there, I've learned quite a few things about being on the other side of the table and how these lessons can apply to how I approach potential careers in later life.
1. You can't completely please everyone.
You could be the friendliest person in the world, have the customer's food come out perfectly, on time, they could still be short-tempered and rude. I've learned that all you can really do is be patient and continue to put your friendliest face on. Again, that customer may come in already in bad mood, which begs the question why they would want to be around people, but all you can do is provide the best service you can and move on. I'm very big on making sure everyone is happy and pleased so having to deal with difficult customers here and there has taught me to take things with a grain of salt, develop a thick skin, and definitely not take things to heart.
2. How amazing the people you meet on the job are.
There are days when I definitely don't want to go into work solely because I don't feel particularly social, but being surrounded by coworkers who understand definitely makes work easier. I feel like if I wasn't working as a server, I wouldn't have ventured out of my comfort zone and became friends with people who are much older and at completely different stages in their lives than me. For the most part, the majority of my coworkers are in their late 20's, 30's and early 40's so as being one of the youngest and most inexperienced, I learn a lot from them.
3. How to go about multitasking.
Everything is a system. There are steps you learn at the beginning of your training that are supposed to help ensure great service. What I've learned is the most helpful with becoming a good multi-tasker is never leaving the kitchen or area where all the servers are in the back empty handed. If you have to refill drinks at two different tables, don't waste time refilling one table's, dropping it off, and coming back to refill the other table's. Multitasking is definitely the way to attend to a customer's needs as quickly as possible without wasting any time, plus, it's a great skill to have in your back pocket for the future.
4. Learning how important and valuable teamwork is in real life.
Being paired off for a group project and having to work together at school is one thing, but the kind of teamwork that goes on in the restaurant business is the real deal. Everyone truly does depend on each other and without this system among everyone, the restaurant could simply not function properly. Being friends with the hostesses, the chefs and cooks, and the rest of the serving staff definitely goes a long way. You may be completely swamped with your tables and having an extra set of hands to help you out could mean all the difference, and of course it doesn't hurt to return the favor. I think one of the things I've come to love about being a server is the aspect of being part of a team and the fact that we're all working towards a common goal.
5. The importance of communication.
It's very easy to get aggravated and unorganized during busy days at the restaurant so it's important to keep communicating with your coworkers and the manager during hectic shifts. I've learned that as much as you don't want to deal with a table that's being difficult, communication is the only way to show that you are still willing to give the best service you can regardless of the situation. Communication really is the key to keeping the restaurant flowing and without it, I know I wouldn't be as confident initiating conversations with customers. Also, being really friendly and outgoing is a huge way to earn bigger tips and gain regulars who will always come to you for service.