Every job you get will have its positives and negatives. Some people may argue that working in certain areas are horrible while working in others is amazing. Most often, I find that people think working in food service is the worst kind of job you can get and that working in retail is the best. Well, here are some facts about working both types of jobs that should help you decide what you think.
1. Food service: Customers will complain about their meal if it's not 100% correct
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Unfortunately, customers expect their food to be catered exactly to their needs, even if they don't tell you what their needs are. They expect everything to be portioned to their liking and if something doesn't taste how they "remember", they will argue for a refund and free meal. When I worked at Panera, I remember one lady came up and expected a free salad and a refund for the one she bought because she didn't like the way the lettuce tasted (even though it was fresh, crisp lettuce).
My biggest question, although I didn't ask her this, is why would she want another salad if she didn't like the way the first one tasted? There will always be people who think they are entitled to free food from any food joint if they just make something up about how their food is wrong. What these people don't seem the realize is if someone comes up to complain about their food, the employee who made it can sometimes be scolded by mangers and co-workers for slowing order times and being careless, even if what they did was perfect.
2. Retail: You will have to harass every customer that you see to get them to buy everything your mangers expects them to.
The worst part of any retail job is having to knowingly annoy customers and ask them an extensive list of questions if you want to make your manager happy. Just recently I was forced to go up to a customer three separate times, even though she rejected my assistance after the first encounter. I couldn't leave the conversation either because my manager was listening in. I don't know about you, but I prefer to be left alone when shopping (this may be because I am wildly antisocial but nonetheless).
I am pretty sure this loses a store's customers in the long run. Let's say you walk into a store you like, but every time you are in there you are consistently disrupted to be told something you most likely already know. You may be told the exact same thing three times by different employees on one shopping trip. Wouldn't this deter you from taking extra trips there when you don't need to? Probably. That is losing the store possible business; so hats off to you retail, for having the dumbest requirements for customers-employee engagement.
3. Food service: You'll end up hating the food from your restaurant.
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Don't work at a place where you eat regularly like I did. I guarantee you that if you care about what you put in your mouth, you will stop eating where you work. Now I don't want to enhance the stigma that "millennials don't care about work" but from my experience, it is somewhat true when it comes to food service. The things I saw in the back kitchen at Panera made me never want to eat there again.
Not only were dirty dishes reused, but the quality of food that some employees were willing to serve was horrendous. This may not by entirely on the employees' fault due to strictly enforced time requirements but there were times when I was embarrassed to be working there. Moral of the story, work somewhere where you already hate the food, unless you are okay with losing a favorite restaurant.
4. Retail: You will have to deal with customers yelling at you for their mistakes.
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What I have discovered from working in retail is that 99% of people don't know what the word "expired" means. Well in case you are one of those, let me enlighten you. Adj. 1. expired- having come to an end or become void after passage of a period of time. Some synonyms for you to learn as well are cease, conclude, terminate, and die. If you work in retail, or are thinking about a job in retail, just be aware that you will have to deal with customers, typically middle-aged women, who seem to be unaware that their expired coupon is, in fact, expired.
After you tell them this, however, they will tell you that it is your fault and they will either demand that they get the money off, or to talk to a manager. Now they will usually end up just embarrassing themselves when the manager comes and tells them the exact same thing that you did so take that as a small victory. Also, don't freeze up if someone is yelling at you because chances are this will just make them angrier. The best way to deal with an upset customer is to explain company policy to them, give them alternatives, and if possible, direct them somewhere where they can get what they are looking for.
5. Food Service: You don't have to worry about forced customer engagement.
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The good thing about food service is that your job is to get customers in and out as fast as possible. You take their order, get their food, and then get them on their way out the door. Unlike retail, your manager isn't going to ask you to try to sell them extra items on the menu. Also, if your manager doesn't have you working registers, you basically won't have to talk to anyone at all.
6. Retail: You'll never be bored; you'll probably have too many things to do.
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This can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing depending on what kind of person you are. Personally, I love being busy. Always having something to do will make time go faster and make your days at work feel really short. It also makes you look really productive to your boss, even if they are the one that assigned you the tasks. If you don't have anything to do then you may just look like you are standing around, which is obviously never good.
Now if you're a lazy person, this probably doesn't sound all that appealing to you. The one downside to this is that if there are too many things to do, you may have trouble prioritizing which things you need to get done first. Overall, retail has much less downtime than food service.
Every job in the world is going to have times when you love it, but there will also be times when you seriously consider quitting. As far as temporary part-time jobs go, I recommend picking either a store you don't shop at or a restaurant you don't eat at. Either way, you don't have to worry about seeing your co-workers outside of work. Personally, I recommend retail over food service just because there will be more to do, you will learn how to talk to people, and you will have a better chance to get references.
One thing that I think is really important that no one ever told me is that it's better to find a job that you are willing to stay at until you are done with school. This will help because it shows that you are a committed employee and it will help your resume if you can show that you have stayed at a job for a couple years. Don't ever shy away from extra tasks at work either; the more responsibilities you can gather, the better off you will be, and the more you will set up your future for success.