Why a minimum wage hospitality job was the best thing that ever happened to me
By: Izzy, redwigwam
It takes a while to get your dream job. Once you’re done with education, you’ll be handing out CVs left, right and centre. Most of us – myself included – will have them spat back in our faces like the useless, inexperienced workers we are. It’s one of those times in life where you’ll look back in a few years and think, ‘oof, that was a bit grim.’
Now, you might be thinking, how does this horrid situation link with this article’s title? Most of you will agree that hearing about my pathetic attempt at job hunting isn’t exactly inspirational. Mainly because it isn’t. In the slightest. In any context whatsoever.
What you might find more interesting is what happened after I stopped looking exclusively for those dream-career positions. I wrangled a job in a pub. Not quite Wolf Of Wall Street territory, but it was a start. I was making money, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t comparable to a leech-sloth hybrid that sat in its pants all day, ugly crying over its potentially disastrous future.
My boss, the lovely wife of a pastor, showed me the ropes on how to pull the perfect pint. How to change barrels. Most importantly, how to use the antique cash register that screamed if you even glanced at the wrong button. I spoke to customers, got friendly with the regulars, and ended up knowing which guest beer to suggest to each individual punter. Then, grateful for the experience, I left.
Because of the experience from the pub, I snagged a new job at an up-and-coming nightclub. It was awful. Absolutely horrendous. I specifically remember one night being hit in the face with a pool cue, by a well-oiled gentleman who seemed to be angry for no good reason at all. Every night I’d consider phoning the managers to say I’d caught Ebola or Smallpox or something equally as contagious. Not that they’d care. As long as you could be forced to churn out fifteen thousand Vodka-Lemonades an hour, you were viewed as ammunition. Cheapammunition. The type that blows your hand off if used.
Unsurprisingly, I left within a few months. Thankfully, with all the experience gained from bar work, I was given a chance as a Barista. It was new, exciting, and fun. Yes, it’s still minimum wage, but it’s respected enough to be viewed as a valid profession by Australian Immigration Laws. Once again, I got to know the regulars. I was taught how to use the complex coffee machines. I learned lots of silly Italian phrases.
I’m still a Barista now. But because of these experiences, technical abilities and relationship building skills I’ve learned over the years, I’m confident enough to start searching for my dream-career again. It’s all about fleshing out not only your CV, but your confidence too. I’m now used to high-pressure environments. If asked questions in an interview, I can answer them. When asked about previous experience or expertise, I can give them a list for as long as they’ll let me talk.
My father, a retired biomedical scientist, told me that when looking for new lab assistants, he’d instantly shortlist people with experience in Hospitality. ‘It’s full of transferable skills’, he says. I can see what he means. I’m now thinking everyone should try Hospitality, even if just for a few months. It changes the way you see the world.
I can’t thank that pastor’s wife enough for everything she taught me. In the ultimate act of charity, she paid me £7.50 an hour to completely ruin her standard of service. People like her are how people like me finally manage to make something of ourselves.