This fall, I entered into Antioch’s class of 2019 as a transfer student from Sinclair Community College. Since I have yet to go out on an official co-op through the school, my experience in the real world comes from my years of working in the service industry. Within it, I have gained confidence in myself, learned how to multitask and manage time, as well as to not hold certain expectations.
So far, I have only had three “real” jobs since high school. I started out working in a grocery store, but have gained most of my experience from the last five years that I have spent as a server. To begin with, serving itself carries a certain stigma. I have had people treat me as less of a person just because I carry their food to the table. Often, I’m treated less like a server and more like a servant. But, from it, I have developed a backbone that wasn’t there before. More importantly, I have learned how to kill them with kindness.
In the service industry, it’s important to remember to be the bigger person. People say, “the customer is always right,” which might be good for only part of those involved. What it comes down to is the idea that even when I am backed into a corner, I can still walk away from it with my head held high. A part of this comes from the fact that I might not always be the best option to resolve a situation. Sometimes, it is better for me to take a step back so that I can learn from someone with a greater amount of experience.
Working as a server has also given me an abundant amount of practice multi-tasking. To go along with that, I have learned how to manage my time more efficiently than I did when I was younger. I’m more prone to prepare for things well in advance and know how to carry out tasks at a quicker pace. My willingness to work on a team has also improved greatly. Just like with any other workplace, a restaurant works best when everyone is pitching in and helping one another out.
Perhaps the most valuable thing that I have gained as a server is the idea to not hold certain expectations. In the real world, no one owes you anything. They don’t have to say “thank you” or even smile when they turn to leave. Nowadays, people have started to forget that. More and more, I see people expecting things out of others who just aren’t willing to give them. Working as a server has kept me from assuming that a person will act a certain way based on their appearance or presumed nature.
Overall, even though I have spent these last five years in a job that most people tend to look down on, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. From it, I have learned more about myself than I feel that I would have had I been a telemarketer or someone who stays behind the scenes. Working with the public takes a certain amount of skill that some just aren’t prepared to deliver. From my experience, I can say that I am ready for whatever the real world throws at me both during my time at Antioch and well after.
Photo credit: https://www.tasteofhome.com/