3 Useful Skills for a Career in Tech I Learned from Waiting Tables

I have always said that we can pick uo all kids of skills in the restaurant that can carry over to other jobs. Ben Singer thinks the same way and this guest post shows us exactly that. You can check out Ben’s website here. Thanks!  -BW

 

I spent years waiting tables as I attempted to be the next big thing in music with my band Muff Punch. I loved it. The camaraderie combined with late nights closing down the bar are some of my fondest memories, and I will forever associate the buzz of a packed restaurant with making money. Sadly, Muff Punch disbanded, and I moved on from the Service Industry to a career where I wouldn’t stay until 5 AM on a Tuesday drinking excessively. Naturally, I landed in tech. Though now a Client Relationship Specialist, the waiter in me lives on I perpetually ranting how random tasks are “just like waiting table.” Here’s a few:

Greeting a Table:

It’s an inherently intrusive to greet a table, as the waiter must interrupt an intimate group to conduct business. It’s an artificially created situation with an extended face-to-face exchange. Every server takes a different approach. I threw out a casual “How’re y’all ding tonight?”. I then react according to their response. Drunken enthusiasm is met with something aggressive. If they’re all business, I’m all business. I calibrate to the response. These 30 seconds are a chance to gauge the table and add some personality. Match the vibe right, everybody’s happy.

Today, I call up clients using our software to explain new features, updates, and to bitch about why they’ve yet to signed their contract. This is the same conversation as greeting tables with me intruding on their day in the name of conducting business. Taking the same 30 seconds for a mindful hello improves these significantly.

Life in the Weeds:

Eventually we all get slammed with more work to do than hours in the day. I thrive in these scenarios from days when unexpected rushes were met with a criminally understaffed FOH. What’s one to do when what we thought was a full section magically gains a 10 top magically where it was thought only 8 could be sat? My first time, a veteran server Alex observed the “I’m about to break down in tears” look on my face, and gave some sage advice.

“Ben, you’re in the weeds. Accept it. Put the blinders on, pick one task, and go! Smoke your way out, one puff at a time!”

The mind blowing-ly effective stoner Alex nailed it. Whenever overwhelmed at the office, I put the blinders on, make my to-do list, and smoke my way out.

Reset The Restaurant

Everything goes to shit in a slammed restaurant. God forbid you can actually find a manager when a table revolts over a 40 minutes ticket time. When the flooding recedes, suddenly the manager returns with the command “No one leaves until this restaurant is reset!” Groans ensue as the side work triples, but the establishment must be ready in case of another swarm of hungry patrons. When the swarm comes, that reset is a godsend.

After a day in tech jumping from fire to fire, I’ve ignored emails, failed to send out meeting invites, and my client notes are a pile of illiteracy. I’m “reset” once I could handle another fire drill of our systems going down without missing any notes. The same principle is at play, only what was formerly a restaurant is now my digital organizational system.

The service industry weeds out the weak. It’s high-intensity, but for those that are good, the money is superb. Despite my love, as I grew older priorities changed and returned to a traditional office environment. That said, I feel bad for those who never worked service industry. It’s the best education I ever got paid to do.

You can check out Ben’s website here.

One thought on “3 Useful Skills for a Career in Tech I Learned from Waiting Tables

  1. Charlotte

    As a former server, now a RN, I love getting new nurses who were once servers. We know how to handle stress and juggle people.

    Reply

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