This might be a hot take, but I think that everyone should work in the hospitality industry at least once in their lives. Whether you choose to stay in hospo and climb the ranks, or you go down another career path, there are skills you learn in a hospitality job that are hard to get anywhere else. Let’s take a look at a few:
1. You get a knack for customer service
One of the most important skills you’ll learn working front-of-house at any pub, club, bar or restaurant is customer service. As you work you start to learn how to read people’s emotions, keep the party going when things are going well, and handle complaints with sensitivity and empathy when something goes astray.
People come to venues to have a great experience and feel looked after, and the same goes for any customer service role. Ask any sales person, accounts manager, freelancer or small business owner about how important it is to have customer service skills – and for bonus points, ask them where they first learned about keeping clients happy (it was probably in a hospo job)!
2. Working under pressure
There’s nothing like your first ‘rush’ when you’re working in hospitality. People are coming up to the bar from all angles, you’re handling about 5 drinks at the same time and the venue’s absolutely buzzing.
The first couple of times you might feel like your brain’s going to leak out of your ears, but as you develop your skills, you start to really put the happy in happy hour. Why? You learn how to work under pressure, communicate with your teammates and get results.
Hospitality is definitely more ‘here and now’ than other roles you might experience in your lifetime, but think of that as a good thing. If you can handle twenty people coming in without a reservation at 7pm on a Friday night, you can easily handle a presentation at work or getting a report in by close of business!
3. Learn how to handle money
This is one that people don’t talk about as often as skills like customer service, but it’s still super important. As you improve your skills and take on more responsibility, you might be asked to take on a supervisor role at a venue, which can involve balancing tills and counting the earnings. It sounds simple, but especially on a busy day, you can become a bit of a detective as you figure out why the cash in the till isn’t matching the receipts from the POS terminal (pro tip: make sure no notes have slipped under the till somehow).
Being able to balance a till looks great on any resumé if you’re planning on working in hospitality or retail, but it shows much more than your maths skills. It shows that you’re willing to take on important responsibilities, that you’re trustworthy, and that you can think methodically to fix up any issues with the final count.
4. It broadens your life experience
Growing up, you usually spend time around people who are pretty similar to you – they live in the same areas, go to the same schools and shops, and go for the same footy teams. Something I’ve taken with me from my time working in hospitality is the sheer range of people you get to know and work with that you never would have met otherwise.
Hospitality in particular is an industry that welcomes people from all walks of life, and you get to know your teammates pretty quickly after a few shifts. It can be really special to be a part of a big event like catering for a wedding, serving a table at someone’s graduation party, or even something more low key like saying hi to the regulars who come in after they knock off work.
Some of my best work friends were people who were twice my age, had a side-gig as a graphic designer, or were veterans, and if it wasn’t for hospitality I wouldn’t have had a clue about any of these people or their interesting lives.
5. You can show off to your family and friends
Have you had a perfectly presented plate arrive at your table and wondered how they get the sauce to look like that, why the burritos you get from takeout are so much better than the ones you make at home, or how they get the margaritas at your favourite place to taste so good? Wonder no longer! Being on the other side of the bar, counter or kitchen doors lets you into the tips and tricks of the trade.
Knowing how to mix a drink, keep a plate warm or cut onions the right way makes you indispensable at any party, hangout or family gatho. Why not put together a little dinner party or cocktail night with your new friends from your hospo gig and enjoy trading tall tales and reminiscing about the time you served a celebrity?
If you’re thinking about starting in hospo, make sure you have the right skills, qualifications and certifications to hit the ground running and get to work ASAP! Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Hospitality Institute of NSW to see what great courses are out there.