Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
That person who serves your food is a failure who didn’t quite cut the mustard at university right? This is a common perception of those in the restaurant industry, and one which isn’t without logic, but if you dig a little deeper there are some valuable lessons.
At the age of 17 I took my first job as a waiter, fresh faced and inexperienced. In the years that followed I took various waiting jobs and stayed in the industry longer than I would have liked. Looking back though, there was a lot I learnt in those years that would set me up to progress in my career:
- Use your connections – My first ever job was thanks to a friend who worked in a local restaurant. She suggested that I interview and I got the role. Since then I have sought out others when taking my next career steps.
- Put in the hours to get ahead – Since I was a waiter I have always put in more hours than most, often working 50+ hours. As is clear from Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, you are unlikely to get ahead without putting in the hours to learn your trade. This is something that I still do, taking in online courses and reading books in my free time to enjoy my working life more and get ahead.
- Pick up the pace – Once you get to grips with a role you really need to keep challenging yourself, otherwise you go stale which isn’t good for you, or your employers. Try to tackle things that you don’t think you can achieve, even if you don’t succeed you will learn. Even as a humble waiter, I pushed myself to get a promotion, and memorised orders to make service quicker.
- Rude customers are just needy – As a waiter there were several customers who others would refuse to serve because they were rude. I would leap at the chance to serve them, because from my experience these people are just needy – give them what they want and you will often be rewarded (better tips!). This doesn’t just apply to customers!
- Getting a promotion is about more than just skill – My first ever promotion from waiter to duty manager, was in no small part about my ability to work with others. At the time a fellow colleague went for the same position and was well qualified to do so, but was arrogant and didn’t work well with others which ruled him out of the race. Be nice and helpful to others and it will pay.
- Take risks – When I got my first promotion, I was studying for a degree, volunteering and doing other things. Some out there would turn down the offer, but without taking that chance I would have missed out on a lot of learning. My current role started off as a “risky” internship, however I have been here over 2 years, still loving it, and learning. Take risks to grow, whether it is internally or away from home.
- Good things come to those who wait – If you’re in a role you always have the choice to leave. Even if the role is difficult I urge you to look at the bigger picture and think of where the experience may lead you. Those at the top don’t do an easy job, so don’t expect that your journey to the top will be easy either. Draw as much experience from everything as you possibly can and enjoy the journey!
When I was a waiter I felt ashamed, due to the perceptions of the industry. Despite this, I took as much learning as I could from the role and looking back I am glad it is an experience I went through. Where I am today, as part of an exciting tech start-up, is in no small part to my experience as a waiter.