Here I am visiting my home state of Iowa - I've lived in Cincinnati now for 11 years but Iowa is and always will be home. It's where I grew up, made lifelong friends, went to college and started my career. After graduating college - I worked in radio. The thing about radio - it pays SQUAT. So while working in radio - I always had a 2nd job. One of my favorite jobs was at Country Kitchen.
Image courtesy of dininginthesmokies.com
The thing is - I had never worked as a waitress - it just felt like one of those rights of passage that I needed to do. So I applied at Country Kitchen - which is one of the breakfast places where you can get a skillet of potatoes and eggs and sausage 24 hours a day.
I loved working there - I'm definitely a people-person so it was fun to meet new people. I had a favorite - this old guy that flirted incessantly, smoked like a chimney and always got the Skillet Scramble with ketchup. He definitely helped me learn to not judge a book by its cover. He practically looked homeless - always grungy and dirty. Then one day he came in a suit! We were all shocked - nobody knew - he was an executive at a local hospital!
Country Kitchen - and being a server - taught me so many great values - that I still use today. I learned about work ethic, appreciating my college education, working with all different types of people, following rules that you may have thought were stupid - but necessary and not judging people. Beyond that - the obvious lessons on how to provide good customer service, etc were there as well.
All of these skills obviously came in handy at Country Kitchen - but the thing is - I still use them today. I'm now an Account Director for an ad agency - the lessons I learned in Customer Service are used every day. Always be courteous, if you know about an issue - let the customer know right away (don't let them sit and wait for their food for 45 min - tell them right away - same happens with clients - if their site isn't going to be ready - tell them the week before - not the day of), take a little extra time and do things right the first time, etc.
It's no surprise though - the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) recently developed the Food and Beverage Service Competency Model which has different tiers of Knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to be successful in restaurant sector careers. I think Tier 3 - the Workplace Competencies - has been the most helpful. I understand integrity, I'm good with my computer skills - what I didn't know was Problem Solving - but restaurants help with that. Food is late, food is wrong, other service act like jerks, customers act like jerks, shifts get schedule wrong, etc... It's inevitable - but by working at Country Kitchen - I figured out positive and healthy ways to deal with those situations - and it carries forward even today.
Now why am I sharing all of this? It's a word of encouragement - keep going - what you're learning today - you'll most likely use again tomorrow. Or if you're searching for something - try the restaurant industry - the skills you learn will stay with you forever. And I have to say - I met some of the best people (customers & coworkers). Absorb everything you can from that restaurant job. You never know where it will lead!