Many young adults put themselves through college by waiting tables. Some may frown upon this saying it's wasted time, but I think working in a restaurant can be very beneficial, especially at a young age. Both of my parents worked in a restaurant as they were growing up and I have now worked in one this past summer. When I come home from work after a hard day, my parents can still relate to my struggles because not much has changed.
Working in a restaurant opens your eyes to the world of customer service. Regardless of your role, your ultimate goal as part of the staff is to ensure the customer has a satisfying experience. Furthermore, you want their experience to be so good that they become loyal customers. This type of work can help you decide if a career in customer service is something that you would enjoy. If you like the idea of working alongside many people all day long, then you may want to look for careers where this type of busy, open communication environment is mimicked.
Being part of a restaurant staff also teaches you many great qualities that you can highlight on resumes, and job interviews. From my experience over the summer, I became a better team player, a great communicator with fellow employees and managers. I became a quick learner as I was trained in many different positions right away. I improved my leadership skills and became comfortable working under a fast paced and stressful environment. All of these characteristics are excellent to areas to be confident in and are often what companies look for in new hires. Starting off as an intern, employers want you to be quick on your feet, skilled at multi-tasking and often has strong communications skills.
In my recent interview, I was able to talk about all of these qualities that I improved upon while working at a restaurant over the summer. While I talked about my experience there, one of the employers I was meeting with remarked that she too had worked in a restaurant when she was my age and agreed on the importance of having such experience. This opened up a whole conversation between her and I, and helped me to connect with her and even make my interview stand out in her mind.
Finally, working in a restaurant helps you to understand how a restaurant works and gives you perspective on just how hard this type of work is. Being on your feet all day is incredibly tiring. You will also have so much more patience when you go out to eat and there is a wait because even if there are open tables, they are on a wait for a reason. You will understand how important a gracious tip is, why your server looks stressed or isn't able to be at your table as much as you would like (maybe they have a huge party to take care of). You will understand that if your food is cooked incorrectly, it is unlikely that it is your server's fault.
So, if you're on the hunt for a job to help earn you a few extra dollars for the school year or are already thinking ahead to the summer make sure you put in your application at some of your favorite local restaurants.