Photo courtesy of Evan Blaser / Flickr

Takeout Takeaways: Restaurants Help Develop Valuable Life Skills

I have a lot of nicknames. My personal favorites are “Goose,” because it’s the name my parents most commonly call me and it reminds me of home, and “Champ,” because let’s be real, I know I’m pretty great and I like having that fact be reinforced. My most accurate nickname, however, is “Garbage disposal,” which I earned for my willingness to eat any amount of any type of food anywhere at any time.

As such, when I got the chance to work at a pizza place this summer, where I would have access to a steady stream of free pizza slices, I readily accepted. I expected my job at Roma Pizza, which I took on as a supplemental job, to be a casual way to make a little extra money on the side—and only that.

Now, however, as I am on the heels of my final shift at Roma Pizza, and I reflect on the summer that is about to end, I realize just how valuable and worthwhile my time spent as a waiter at a small, family-owned pizza place was. In a broader sense, my experience at Roma, coupled with my previous experience as a crew member at Dunkin’ Donuts, has highlighted for me the value of and lessons to be learned from a service industry job.

Sarah Smith, a VP of recruiting and HR at Quora.com, notes that, in order to succeed in any career, the three most critical skills to develop and cultivate are communication, analysis, and execution. I would argue that working a service industry job, such as at, say, a pizza place, is uniquely useful in helping to foster and hone all of these skills, particularly communication and execution.

When it came to communication, my boss, a huge Italian man named Luca, made it very clear that being polite was paramount. He placed a tremendous value on the disposition of his waiters, and insisted that they be both respectful to him and the customers. In this way, working at a restaurant forced me to work on being perpetually polite—even to those customers who did not reciprocate my politeness—which is a valuable life skill I will continue to employ in future careers (another lesson learned: way too many people are jerks to their waiters).

Additionally, Luca insisted that Roma Pizza be run efficiently, thus I was quickly tutored on how to deliver pizzas to customers quickly and efficiently. Making sure I properly executed my particular role in ensuring everything ran smoothly was doubtlessly useful in fostering the execution skills that Smith notes.

Beyond these basic, not to mention crucial, skills, working in the service industry is likewise useful in forming interpersonal skills as well as autonomy and confidence, as noted by Holly Rust of the Huffington Post. These skills are useful not only in future careers, but in life as a whole as well.

Maybe I’m reaching in an attempt to justify a summer spent eating pizza in lieu of working an internship behind a desk somewhere, but I do sincerely believe that given the skill set I learned from a summer at Roma Pizza, working at a pizza place has paved the way for future career success just as much as any internship would have.

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