8 Things I Learned Working a Restaurant Job (Part 2)

working in a restaurant job, two hands serving a burger

Finally, the second part to what working in a restaurant job and the hospitality industry taught me, and could maybe teach you! If you haven’t checked out part 1 yet you can find it here.

Disclaimer: This is just my personal experience and may not be what you would/will experience. Also, while working in fast food teaches you loads, it should also be stated that it has risks of its own. Check out these hazards or this study in relation to working during COVID-19.

Emotional Control

Whether it be annoying customers or coworkers there are always times when you need to keep your frustration or anger down to stay professional.

For example, once a lady kept asking for packaged ketchup even though I explained she can get the regular ketchup around the corner but for some reason – although she was eating “to stay” – insisted on the ketchup packets. Those are more expensive and most of all unnecessarily environmentally damaging. But, of course, to keep the customers happy, I let go of that frustration and handed her ketchup packets.

The same goes for working with coworkers who can be just as stressed or overwhelmed as you. Or in times when there are coworkers training and constantly make mistakes.

There are just so many times you learn to keep your emotions in check.

Accompanying People with Different Backgrounds

You are bound to get in conversation with your coworkers, whether that be small talk or becoming friends.

Through this you meet a variety of people with different backgrounds including rough ones.

Once I asked a coworker about his tattoo, and hee told me it represented a time he was homeless. That caught me off guard because I hadn’t expected that he had gone through something like that.

Because people do these jobs for such different reasons they also come from different backgrounds. This gives you a chance to meet such a variety of people, learn from them, and gain perspective.

Understanding Other People’s Needs

This becomes so helpful in the kitchen: understanding what other people need in a rushed environment without them having to ask.

Sometimes while making burgers there was so much that needed to be done and so little time, I didn’t want to ask for something because one, other people are busy, and two, it’ll put me out of my place and rhythm.

Instead, people can see “oh, they’re missing that item, let me refill”, or “let me do that “out of the ordinary order” so they can continue with the rest”.

This skill doesn’t come easily to everyone but working in fast food is definitely a place where it can be learned.

Career Desire Understanding

People spend so much time trying to figure out what they want to do as a career. While a fast food job might not help you find your career, it can help give an understanding of what you do and don’t desire.

For example, I learned that I wanted more – and not just income related.

It is possible to survive off of only a fast food job, maybe not just part-time, but the industry itself. As mentioned, for me this was just a side job next to school.

While working, you see many who stick to this job, who don’t have plans for other jobs, who only finished high school, or even moving up to managerial positions. 

I, for one, learned, that this is not the career path I want to move forward in. It wasn’t my initial intention, and it’s good to know that that’s how it’ll stay. 

I am also more motivated to make a different career work successfully so I won’t need to resort to this job for too long. 

Actually Learning Names

We all know the times when someone introduces themselves and their name, and you do the same after. But after, you realize you never actually processed or consciously remembered the other person’s name.

Working in fast food, where it can be loud or you need assistance fast, not knowing names can put you at a large disadvantage.

I’ve gotten better at actually listening to names and remembering. In the restaurant environment, it is immediately helpful and needed to know. Naturally, this has then spread into regular life.


I like to think of this as “the other side of things”.

For example,

Side 1: You’re a person who orders Uber Eats.

Side 2: Now you see the rushed drivers coming in to grab the food you hand them. You see how frustrated they get when the food isn’t done yet because they have to get it to the person who ordered it quickly. You hear their constant comments about getting good reviews.

There are many different scenarios where you are typically the customer but now, since you’re on the working end of the restaurant business you see the “other side of things”. This gets you some interesting perspectives.

Caring about More

Yes, we care about our family, friends, ourselves, and even maybe some non-living items. In some way or another, after cleaning, attending to, and in good environments, you may care about your place at some level.

If you’re that kind of person, you may subconsciously feel as if there are parts of your place at work that you care about. 

When you close, you’re cleaning something other than your house or belongings. When you attend to customers, you’re attending to the public image the place you work at displays. If you make food, you’re making it for the people who are paying at the place you work. Yes, the money indirectly goes to you.

You may be caring about something other than yourself – the company, the company’s food you put out, customers – without thinking too much about it.

All in all, you may realize some things you end up doing where you would probably still have your job if you didn’t. 


I’ve learned that “no one follows the rules” also applies to the professional world until there’s a problem. 

For example, only once there is a complaint about hair in the food is it time to put hair nets on.

And then there are things where no one follows the rules, like keeping jewelry off or short nails.

Even when working with a vulnerable item such as food, not all the rules are applied. And that’s just how life is anyway.

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