September 25, 2014
PR Lessons while Waitressing
By: Morgan Brenner @morganbren
After getting through my first year as a full time college student, I decided to hold off on the stress of searching for an internship and find a job for the summer. I ended up being hired at a family owned restaurant as a server. At first it seemed like a total opposite experience from anything I could be learning about public relations in an internship. However, by the end of the summer I had more confidence in the field I was going into than ever.
Into the first few weeks of my new waitressing gig I realized how much I underestimated how difficult the job would actually be. Just when I had finished finals, I realized how much I would need to memorize to be able to do this job. The restaurant required every server to memorize and understand over 50 appetizers and entrees, as well as an extensive drink menu. Not only that, but I had to remember when my customers ordered their food and drinks so I could deliver them in a timely fashion.
It was overwhelming how much attention to detail mattered in the restaurant business – a lesson I believe can cross over into any career I may have in the future. Most people, whether it’s ordering food or planning an event, don’t think about every little detail. But if someone ordered a salad and didn’t tell me what dressing they wanted, they’d blame me for not asking.
Serving is one of the unique jobs where how well you do your job directly effects how much you get paid. There was a lot of times where I would be overwhelmed with the amount of tables I had, but I would still refuse to give my tables to other more experienced waitresses because I didn’t want to loose out on the cash. I ended up doing a bad job with more tables, and making less money, than if I had taken fewer tables and focused on making them happy. Taking on more than you know you can handle is a big no no. Everyone has a limit, and it’s important to know what that is.
One thing that stood out to me about some of the staff that differed from what I did, was a lot of people just told the customer what they wanted to hear. If I didn’t like something on the menu I would tell them (if my boss wasn’t near me), and customers really respected me for that. Of course you want to make money for whomever you’re working for, but you may lose a customer if you’re not honest with them. It’s all part of respecting people you’re working with even if they may not be your favorite person.
Despite there being many lessons that translated over to the PR world in waiting on tables, the biggest thing I learned this summer was that serving people food was not what I wanted to do for my whole entire life. I have a lot of respect for the people I worked with that do that for a living, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have. So next time you’re at a restaurant, don’t forget to tip! (Seriously though, that’s just rude.)