Learning on the Job: My Experience as A...

Learning on the Job: My Experience as A Fast-Food Worker

by Tiffany Chang
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

During the summer after grade 10, I got a part-time job in fast-food, where I worked five-hour shifts, Monday through Friday. My tasks were what many normally associate with these kinds of positions. When I started, cleaning was my main responsibility. I’d wipe down tables, sweep and mop the floor, wash trays, replenish dining room supplies, as well as take out the garbage just before leaving for the day. After that, helping with food preparation, like making sandwiches, became another regular task. The last was using the cash registers.

As mentioned above, I started off with cleaning and ended up creating a comfortable routine for myself. Nevertheless, it was all I did for the first five weeks, so I didn’t have many direct interactions with customers throughout that period of time other than some approaching me to either ask a question or express a complaint/concern. I would then pass these on to my more senior co-workers unless I could assist them on my own, which happened occasionally. The same applied to when I also prepared food.

I’m very introverted, so I wasn’t eager to handle the cash register because this evidently meant speaking with customers face-to-face on a regular basis. Of course, I did eventually but didn’t spend as much time doing so as I should have due to this initial hesitation. I remember being quite nervous while people told me their orders, especially on days when the restaurant was busy. However, luckily for me, my circumstances were mostly ideal as my manager as well as co-workers were instructive, but also showed a lot of support while I was learning how to carry out transactions and deal with customers. I recall on one occasion where a co-worker kindly told me that I should have put a customer’s change into their hand after I just slid their change across the counter toward them. I appreciated all the helpful pointers they provided and how understanding they were.

Overall, I learned how important it is to take the initiative. Though working in fast-food definitely was a good experience as my very first job, I could have made the experience even better by being more assertive and willing to take on responsibilities that intimidated me. Often times, feeling discomfort in this regard remains necessary while gaining certain skills. It was also a reminder that even though mistakes will be made, these mistakes can lead to growth if introspection is involved. It’s a difficult undertaking without a doubt but having that positive perspective makes a huge difference.

As I reflect on my time there, I would say the most valuable takeaway was, rather than worrying so much about what might go wrong, focusing on how acquiring various skills (particularly interpersonal ones for this case) could be beneficial, long-term. Remaining aware of the positive possibilities can act as an incentive and way to increase self-confidence. Stepping out of your comfort zone is crucial if you know there’s a possibility of enhancing existing skills and/or learning something new.

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