Everyone I have talked to that has worked in the food service industry agrees: everyone should work as a server at some point in their lives. Not only does it make you truly appreciate being paid in tips and what servers go through on a daily basis, but the valuable skills you gain from the service industry can help you tremendously in life. I worked as a server for 4 years at a popular breakfast restaurant near my college, and the skills I gained there have proven to be a true asset to me during my career as a PR professional. Some examples:
- Multi-tasking If there’s one thing servers do well, it’s being able to juggle multiple tables, with multiple attitudes. You have to remember all the details of each table’s food order, as well as remember to keep drinks filled and customers happy. Then, there’s all the behind the scenes work such as making sure food goes out on time, the way the customers wanted it and making sure things stay stocked in the kitchen so things run smoothly. Being able to juggle all these duties helps prepare for a life in PR, because we are constantly managing a variety of tasks for a multitude of clients, and being able to stay on top of it all is vital.
- Maintaining a positive attitude Everyone has bad days, and everyone has days they don’t feel like being at work. Having difficult tables can make these moods even worse, but in order to get a good tip, you have to maintain a cheery disposition. No one is going to give a great tip to a grumpy person. This is helpful in PR, because there will be days when you have a million things going on, clients who have pressing needs, and bosses that want everything as soon as possible so they can move things forward. If you maintain a good attitude, not only are others going to be more willing to help you and work with you, but you’ll find that getting those tasks done is a lot easier. While you don’t rely on tips in this case, you rely on your reputation, and who doesn’t like to work with a positive person?
- Over-communicating Serving taught me a great lesson when it comes to communication: over-communicating is a key to success. We’re all human and we make mistakes. When serving, if something is going on in the kitchen and a table’s food is going to be running late, you do not just let them wait it out. You explain the problem, present a solution, and make sure they’re in the loop at all times. I found that as long as people are clued in and understand the situation, they are most often not going to be as upset as they might have been. This goes the same for PR – whether it’s your teams, your clients, or your manager, it’s easier for everyone to be in the know, instead of you trying to handle things on your own. It’s more efficient and effective, and benefits everyone in the long run.
What are some skills you took away from your previous jobs that helped with your PR career?