I was inspired to write this post, as I have previously worked part time in Hospitality and Customer Service for just over 2 years during high school, university and living in Sydney. During that time I have worked in 3 different cafes. I remember at the last cafe I worked at, I was talking to a co-worker who said “I feel like everyone should have to work in hospitality for two weeks.” It was something I really agreed with, because often hospitality is something that is under-looked and judged. Most of all, people who are not very polite, can often be quite rude and disrespectful to workers. You are sure to meet the most interesting people and also the most friendly people. Although, in mentioning hospitality, I think if you have tried Customer Service or Retail at least once as well, you may be able to relate to similar experiences.
A friend I deeply admire, and remember having a conversation with two years ago, told me about how when she was growing up, her family were quite well to do. However, they told her that whatever clothes she wanted to buy, where ever she wanted to travel and even the camping school trips she had – she needed to pay it herself. Til this day I admire her so greatly, because not only has she been to over 10 countries which she paid all herself, she also left home getting her own first car and paying her own living all by herself. She sacrificed her school weekends to work and balanced her university schedule to work. In my eyes, I could see the independence she held, and the hard work she instilled. Yet, she didn’t stress easily at all, because she understood what it takes to look after ones self.
That is what truly bothers me, when others judge people for working in a hospitality job, because they don’t realise each persons situation. Some people could truly be from a very poor background, and need to provide for their family. Others may be students who need to pay for themselves, or their parents would like them to learn to be more independent in having experience of what it’s like to earn your own money. Some may just enjoy working in that industry and others are often looking at it as a temporary option. Whatever it may be, here are some of the reasons why everyone should work in hospitality (or customer service and retail) at least once in their life.
- Realising the physical demands of a hospitality job. The last time I worked at a cafe, I worked with many people who worked 6 days a week from early mornings until closing time. A lot of them even had evening jobs at others restaurants. Often people don’t realise the amount of hours that workers stand, move around, lifting objects, cleaning up and walk during the day. There are also periods of time where it’s non stop and you have to be quick paced.
- The different kinds of customers and situations you will meet each day. I still remember when a customer shouted at me and a co-worker when I was in New Zealand. The door was open, and he complained that it was far too cold, and that we need to shut it immediately. There will also be many customers who insist their meat isn’t cooked the right way or customers who will stare at you (sometimes not very kindly). I think it’s all part of the experience in meeting different kinds of people, because at the end of the day, the friendly customers are the ones who make it worth it.
- The saying “treat others how you would want to be treated” will mean a lot more. Many customers will talk down on you and of course you will be asked for help a lot – because that’s just what’s part of a customer service job. Saying ‘Thank you’ and receiving a smile makes all the difference in the world.
- You will have more respect for those working in hospitality. We often associate people working in hospitality as not smart, because they can only strive for a job in that industry. This is a very negative stereotype. In fact, a lot of people in hospitality are actually students or people who have traveled from overseas and need to take care of their family. There are also many I have met, who are genuinely passionate about food and are striving to work at a high end restaurant.
- You won’t build an idea of status hierarchy. Although, I would never judge someone by their job position. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who think they are better because of their job position. While working in hospitality, you will realise that in the world, we will always need someone to cook food, clean, pick up the rubbish and so on. I don’t ever believe that there are jobs that are higher than others. I think it comes down to what you are striving for yourself, that should be valued.
- Learning to be independent from a young age. If you started working as a teenager, then it is an advantage, in the sense that you have more of an idea how businesses run and what sort of people there are to deal with on a daily basis. It also makes you not too protected by your parents and have a sense of stability and satisfaction in taking care of yourself and purchasing things yourself from the money you worked hard for.
- Having experience with customer service. People in customer service get such a hard time. Understandably there are some people who work in customer service who are difficult and vice versa. That is the reality, that there will be people who are very helpful and friendly and people who are not very nice. But, from this experience you will learn more people skills and how to communicate with different people.