Student learns perspective through server job


Jayvonna Corley,

Working in a restaurant can really give you a new perspective on life. You don’t just supervise and help the customer when they ask. No, your job as a server is to make sure the guest is more than satisfied and willing to come back. As a task alone that can be a humbling experience.

You learn a lot when you work in a restaurant. It can build your communication skills, help with self-control and help with your time and coordination skills. I’ve served in the food industry for a total of four years, and it has taught me so much. Waiting on people is a different kind of customer service, unlike retail.

The interaction between customers and co-workers will show you just how many personalities you can have. It starts as soon as you clock in for your shift. Every day is a different experience.

You never know what surprises are going to come out because you don’t know how the shift is going to be. Will it be busy, slow or completely dead? Did everyone come into work today or are we down to like four servers on a Saturday night? The first lesson is: never come into work with expectations. You can be very disappointed in a matter of 10 minutes after stepping through the door.

Not having expectations for my work shifts taught me to not have such high expectations for the real world. I don’t expect so much from people. I just treat people how I want to be treated, and I hope for the best. That’s easier when it comes to meeting new people.

The next lesson comes when interacting with guest. Some greet the table with a high and happy personality. Then turn to a coworker with a Debbie Downer type of mood. A server will walk into the kitchen with an attitude, and then they will walk out with a smile. The lesson is how to control your mood and temper. If you show the guest that you are flustered and annoyed, then that can cause a problem and make serving the table difficult.

By always remaining calm and keeping a smile on your face, you are showing the guest you can handle working with a lot of tasks. Always stay polite and try to be sympathetic when there is a problem.

Interaction with guests is good practice when meeting new people in another social setting. You’re already comfortable with initiating conversation and introducing yourself. The conversation just comes naturally, and this can help in a career as well.

The third lesson comes from communication between you and the kitchen. One of the biggest problems in the restaurant industry is a slow kitchen. If it’s anyone who will test your patience other than the guests, then it’s the cooks. Cooks often give you crap when you mess up on an order or like to argue when you tell them how to do their job. If your food was supposed to come with no tomatoes and it does, then whose fault is that? To the guest, it looks like you messed up, but in reality, it was the kitchen.

Dealing with the kitchen will teach you how to pick your battles. If you go back there and then argue with every cook every time they mess up that’s only wasting your time and bringing down your tip.

Lastly serving in a restaurant can help with time management and coordination skills. When serving you have to do everything fast with little prep time. The goal is to prioritize your task and multitask. If you have to get a side of ranch for one table, then check for another and a refill for the one on the table in the corner. The smart route is to have the check printing while filling up a cup and calling for the side of ranch.

That way everything is done when you have to go back to table, and you’re not going back and forth.

These skills come in handy outside of work and can be used in school. One might have a lot of assignments due and still have to clean. While vacuuming you could read, or while doing dishes think about topic sentences for an essay.

Working in the food industry isn’t for everyone, but it is beneficial for the ones who do it. You can take some of the skills at work and use them in other aspects of your life. It helps with building character and practice socializing skills.