Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Service Industry: Good Work Experience?

After a discussion with my roommates yesterday about part-time job opportunities, I started thinking about all of the work experiences I've had throughout high school and college (server, cocktail waitress, bartender... you name it, I've done it).  One roommate said her mother didn't want her to work in a bar because doing secretarial work would look better on a resume... I kind of think the opposite.  

As someone who has worked in the service industry since the age of 16, I'm a firm believer that everyone should have the experience of working in a bar or restaurant at some point in their life.  I sometimes wonder if my part-time job experiences are something I should include on a resume, or at least mention in interviews.  I say this not because I think my future employers in the PR world will be impressed with my skills at balancing four plates of food or mixing Alabama Slammers, but because I think working in the service industry says certain things about a person.

I've learned a lot about customer service and how to be patient in dealing with difficult people.  My people skills definitely have benefited from waitressing and bartending, since these jobs require me to carry on conversations with and basically entertain complete strangers.  In an industry like public relations, where I need to be comfortable and confident talking to strangers, I know my practice in part-time jobs will help me.  

I've also learned to be professional and responsible.  This kind of goes along with good people skills, but the service industry has taught me to always behave like a professional so as to represent the bar or restaurant I'm working for in a positive manner. 

Lastly, I've learned time management.  Balancing a full load of classes and two part-time jobs is hard work, but it helps me prioritize so I can get everything done.  I stay motivated to finish my school work because I know I need to go to work (and I'm motivated to go to work so I can afford rent in NYC in 5 months!).

What do you think - are restaurant and bar jobs something important to include on a resume or in an interview?


  1. That's a good point! I don't know if I'd put it on my resume, but I think it would be something worth talking about in an interview. I'm sure 99% of us have worked in the service industry at some point in our lives, and it might be a good topic you can both relate to which might lead to something unique that'll make them remember you. :)

  2. I think that your point about the value of working in a service industry cannot be overstated. Working in ANY service industry is a necessary component of a complete life experience. If you are always the customer, you are missing an important half of the picture. Learning how to deal with a demanding or unpleasant customer is part of life that will better prepare you for any career that involves interacting with others. Unfortunately, including it in your resume may not be as effective and informative as it should be. Just as unfortunate is the fact that many in our culture perceive servers, cocktail waitresses and bar tenders as the low end of the feeding chain, as well as the socio-economic hierarchy. These same people are the ones that would be most negatively affected if this component of the work force was not there at their beck and call. Although one who is reviewing a resume may not be impressed by your work experience, I think you make an excellent case for the value of such an experience. Someone that has never had to "serve" will never truly understand that important side of life. I think that including your work experience should be important, but will only result in the effect you want if you can get across the same concepts that have done so well in your blog. I found it very insightful, and something that most people would probably never dwell on, which would also be unfortunate. Your blog is definitely a worthwhile read. -- an interested reader