I recently got hired at 82 Queen which is a high class restaurant in downtown Charleston. I'm still wondering how I even got the job because I lack the experience they usually look for. I was told my personality was the prime reason I got hired. I was thrilled to start this new job, I had to pick up a lot of new skills very fast and even though I'm out of training, I'm still learning new things every shift. Here are just a few of some valuable life skills that I'm learning from being a server.
1. Public Speaking
I've never been a big fan of public speaking but sometimes it is unavoidable. As a server, I have taken care of 20-25 person parties before all by myself. This means going up to this large group, addressing them, and answering any questions they might have. This can be compared to a presentation in the way that I have to stand up in front of a large group and talk about a subject while being the center of attention. When you are addressing your tables, it is all eyes on you. I have absolutely no problem going up to large parties and giving them my spiel about the restaurant and the menu. I like to think of addressing each table as good practice for public speaking for the future.
2. Fake it 'til you make it
I've only had my current job for a couple of weeks so I'm still learning the little things about the menu and about the history of the company. When someone asks me a question I don't know, I either say I will go check with a manager or more commonly, I just spit out an answer that I think sounds good. Being able to come up with an answer fast that sounds professional is a great skill I have learned from the restaurant industry.
3. Confidence is key
I pretty much just got out of training so sometimes it feels like I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing, but I never let my tables see me confused. I go up to every customer with a warm smile and positive attitude hoping that my fake confidence radiates off me. I like to tell my tables that I just got out of training then watching their reactions. From this past weekend, everyone I told was absolutely shocked, this just proves that fake confidence can go a long way. After graduation when I start my career, I know this skill will come in common.
4. How to stay calm under pressure
Every job can be a little stressful but when you get double or triple sat, the kitchen is messing up your orders, and your tables are getting upset with you, it can be very hard to stay calm. I'm not one to get stressed easily and I try to not get stressed out by my job because it's honestly not worth the stress. When I do get stressed at work, I still treat every table the same, I keep myself composed, and I push through the shift.
5. How to multitask
There is no down time as a server, there is always a table that needs something, a dish to polish, or new customers to greet. I'm a very forgetful person so I'm still working on my multitasking, I often forget what I am going to do as I go to do it. Serving 4 or 5 tables at a time is definitely improving this skill for me. I have to pace each table differently depending on what course they are on. I am constantly checking in with each table, refilling waters, taking orders, or dropping off a basket of biscuits. Multitasking is a skill that comes in handy with school, but it will also be useful in the future when I have my first real job.
6. Hard work pays off
I've said it before and I will say it again, one of my favorite things about being a server is that a lot of the time you are in charge of yourself. You are in your own section with your own tables, there is no manager monitoring you 24/7. It's nice not being told what to do all the time, but that does not mean I am not constantly working hard. Hard work really goes a long way. Managers notice who is actually working and who is not and so do your tables. The more effort you put in, the more money you will make (theoretically).
7. Being able to talk to anyone and everyone
A big part of being a server is being able to talk to anyone about anything. I love talking to new people which is a big part of why I love serving. I like talking to the tourists and finding out where they are from and what brings them to Charleston. Being able to make a connection with each table is so special. I don't just want to know how your food tastes, I want to know why you're visiting and what fun things you have planned while you're here! I've also gotten pretty good at talking about myself too, many people ask me if I'm in school which then turns into a whole conversation about my major and my plans for after graduation. It may be a little repetitive, but I don't get tired of it. being able to talk to people is a skill that will take you far in life. Networking and forming connections opens up limitless opportunities.
I've only just started this serving job, I can't wait to see what else I learn from this experience.