1. You learn how to delegate, improvise, and juggle many balls in the air at once.
Service jobs usually have issues that pop up quickly and need to be fixed – instantly. And somehow, you just learn to make shit work, because you have no other choice.
2. …While cubicle jobs come with plenty stressors of their own, the problems are usually long term.
But in the service industry, you’ve always got an unhappy customer or multiple groups of people that need to be waited on or an issue with an order – all the time, and all at the same time. There is always a problem, so you become accustomed to fixing issues this instant, in real time.
3. You meet a lot of weird people.
Sometimes multiple oddballs in the same day. At the very least, you’re working a job that is anything but monotonous.
4. And if you hope to get into any kind of creative field some day…
You’ll never run out of material or inspiration.
5. It gives you a much better understanding of why people are fighting so hard for higher wages.
After a long day on your feet, sometimes working shifts that last up to 12 hours, you feel equally as burnt out and exhausted as your friend working a corporate 9-5 job. And often, the fact that they’re making thousands and thousands of dollars more than you can be really frustrating.
6. And on top of that, it’s a huge eye-opener into what an average American’s financial situation is like.
There are still so many people that cannot afford to go to college, and often their only option is to work as a bartender, a server, a retail employee, etc. Even when taking on as many shifts as possible and working your ass off, the yearly income is often still not sustainable long-term, especially when it comes time to start a family. Even if you don’t yet know how to help create change, you at least understand there’s a problem to begin with.
7. It gives you a necessary dose of humility.
You realize that no one cares where you went to school, or what you majored in, or whether or not you were in Greek life, or where you’re from. What they care about is – can you work hard and prove your worth and get shit done? A service job brings everybody to the same playing field, regardless of backgrounds and degrees and financial status. Everybody gets to the same level, where we all should be in the first place.
8. You learn how people should actually be treated.
In a job in which you have to provide customer service to someone, you meet a lot of great people. But you also meet a lot of people who think they’re better than you, or who think it’s okay to treat you inferiorly just because you’re wearing a name tag and are getting paid to assist them. It’s a great reminder of the fact that, no matter where you are in life, you should treat every person you meet with respect, dignity, and kindness.
9. You become a more generous and supportive person.
Most servers I know, past and present, tip better than anyone else I’ve met. Most retail employees I know are the most gracious to other store employees, because they know what it’s like to deal with a snobby customer. And so on and so forth. When you work in the service industry, you never forget the kindhearted people you meet, and you usually seek to conduct yourself in the same way that they did, because you understand how much of a difference it makes.
10. It gives you the freedom to discover the things you truly love.
For many people, a service industry job is an in-between phase, where you work to support yourself while you try to figure out what it is that you really want to do. Most of the time, your work is all done on-the-clock; you don’t usually have to take it home with you, which gives you more time to explore things that you’re truly passionate about. At the same time, there are plenty of people I know who started out in the service industry to pay the bills, and have ended up staying in it because they discovered that it’s what they truly love doing.
11. It’s a great reminder that you’ve gotten to where you are with a lot of help.
Sure, you’ve worked hard and earned a lot of what you have. But working with and assisting people from all different corners of the world reminds you that you wouldn’t be where you are today without plenty of help and support from family, friends, teachers, etc.
12. You learn that you should never judge people, especially right off the bat, because you have no idea where they’ve been or what they’re going through.
People often stereotype service industry workers as those who have cushy jobs and aren’t really living up to their full potential. But most of the people I encountered in my post-college retail job were the hardest-working and most genuine people I had ever met. One woman whom I will never forget was a mother of two, who would work a 5:30-9:30 shift a couple nights a week, after working a 9-5 day job. She would also work on the weekends as well – all so that she could afford to pay for her kids to go to college. You don’t know where anyone’s been, what they’re going through now, and what they’ve had to do to get to where they are. Working in the service industry is a serious reminder that you should keep a completely open mind with every person you encounter in your lifetime.