A few days ago, I had a conversation with another student from Texas Tech. While telling her about my current job, waitressing, she asked: “Why don’t you get a big girl job over the summer?”
A job as a waitress is not very respected, especially by people who have never worked in the restaurant industry. It is viewed by some as a last resort before unemployment, or only for those who can’t handle a 9-5 job.
But I don’t believe that is true.
Waitressing can prepare you for your career after college, especially in public relations.
You work until the job is DONE.
If you want to leave at midnight, but you have two hours of silverware left to roll, you will be there until 2 a.m. No exceptions.
If a couple comes into the restaurant two minutes before closing, you serve them, and with a smile. Even though this may push back your own after-work plans by an hour.
You don’t get to clock out when you are scheduled to. In fact, you probably won’t even have a scheduled time to leave. You work, and work hard, until everything is done.
In a public relations profession, you can’t ignore your problem at hand. You work on it, give up sleep for it, push back plans for it, and do not quit until it’s done.
You make your OWN money. You are not paid.
As a public relations professional, you will not get paid for showing up. You get paid for the work you do and the number of clients you take on.
As a waitress, you are not paid hourly (after taxes). You are paid based on how many customers you wait on and how well they want to tip you, based on your service.
The mayonnaise was supposed to be on the side. The soda is flat. The french fries are stale.
What are you going to do? Apologize and take responsibility for a mistake you made? Blame the kitchen for messing up? Fix the problem yourself? Get your company’s figurehead (restaurant manager) to apologize and present a way (free dessert) to make it up to the client (customer)?
It is up to you, so decide, and decide in the next 30 seconds, before you get a bad Yelp review.
You become easy to talk to.
Whether it is an older couple asking you what you’re doing in college or a weird guy asking what you are doing after work, as a waitress, you are forced to communicate with people.
You must smile, be helpful, and act like you would rather be nowhere else but serving your current table.
You will deal with difficult people. Friendly people. People that do not speak the same language as you.
But you still must communicate with them, because that is your job.
As a waitress, you also may find yourself in a conversation with someone who may help you in the future. I have received business cards from men and women in my field from across the state.
Every person you meet may be a connection.
Your coworkers become your family. You are comfortable enough to ask them for help, ask them for advice, or just vent. But when you are closing that restaurant at the end of the night, you depend on these people to do their share of work. They depend on you to do the same.
Even as a waitress, you are forced to work as a team to make the job go smoothly.
So the next time someone asks when I will get a big girl job, I will proudly tell him or her:
“I already have one!”