Waitressing helped me build confidence for my future career
By: Lorraine Debbas
So here’s the tea...I’ve had a million restaurant jobs. To some, this doesn’t seem like valuable experience. However, I would argue that the skills I’ve learned from customer service jobs are valuable and will set me apart in my future career in public relations.
Working customer service jobs are NOT easy--it’s easy to be taken advantage of. This sounds a lot like a post grad in their entry level job. They’re new, scared and feel like they don’t have much to offer.
I want to give you three tips I’ve learned from my restaurant jobs to help you be your own advocate in the workplace, without getting fired.
1. Show that you are irreplaceable.
When I waitressed at a restaurant, thou shall not be named, they were always firing people. When working there, it was like walking on eggshells. Managers saw their employees as replaceable. It’s easy to find people to work the job; however, I made sure that I built relationships with customers. After a few months in, I had a handful of regulars that came in just to see me. If my managers lose me, they lose business. You have to show your worth and show your employer why you’re special to the company.
2. Don't expect a promotion, earn it.
We’ve all been there. You’ve been working at your job for some time and you’ve outgrown your position. You DESERVE that promotion. When I was hosting at a restaurant, they were stubborn about moving hosts up to food runners. I wanted to run because they made more money but I knew if I waited for someone to hand me a promotion, I wasn’t going to get one. Instead of asking for a promotion, I phrased it differently: “I’m interested in food running, what can I do to get there?” I didn’t wait for them to schedule me training shifts, I came in early or stayed late to help in the kitchen and learned how to run food. After a few weeks, my manager was impressed and promoted me! You have to show that you’re willing to learn and sometimes that means thinking outside the box.
3. Don’t be afraid to pitch ideas
Employers appreciate feedback. We have a fresh perspective on the company and our little college brains are up to date on the industry. Obviously, it’s all on how you word the critique. Never use an arrogant tone. I once told a manager that we should implement a beer social, targeted toward college students. Our social media had a low following and I said it was because our primary customers don’t have social media. If we reach out to college students for an event, they would naturally post about it on Instagram and it would be free advertising for us and he ended up loving the idea!
Working in restaurants made me a more confident person. I will carry the experience with me for the rest of my life. So for all those full-time students/part-time workers, this one's for you, you’re doing great sweetie. For those of you that have never worked in a customer service job, I hope these tips help you thrive in your career.
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