Life Lessons: From a Hospitality Major

Despite all its flaws, working in the hospitality industry provides us with invaluable life lessons; ones that will never really leave us. As they always say, you can take the girl out of the cafĂ©, but if you take the caffeine out of the girl, she’s probably going to be completely useless. These five life lessons are ones that I learned early on and still get reminded of today. 


When that one customer takes a shine to you and proceeds to tell you about their new hip replacement, their kids or whatever else you’re not interested in, it can be difficult not to let your irritation show. Dealing with people you don’t like can be draining, but it’s important to remain friendly and professional with even the most exasperating customers. Hospitality gives you ample practice with this one, particularly if you serve alcohol.

If you went out the night before a shift, you need to grab some clear eyes, down some aspirin, chug some pedialite and get your ass to work. This teaches a hard lesson in responsibility: if you compromise your ability to fulfill a commitment, you have to suffer the consequences. People are counting on you to be there, so the least you can do is turn up and hope the remnants of a big night will fade with your hundredth espresso.

It’s closing time, but those giggly ladies-who-lunch haven’t finished their last bottle of chardonnay, so you’re not going anywhere. In hospitality, you don’t leave until everything is cleaned and ready for tomorrow’s shift, but taking that extra time to set up is really just investing in an easier start for yourself the next day. This principle works in any setting. Get yourself ready for tomorrow before you leave work, before you go to bed, or before you open your own bottle of giggles with your own giggly friends. Just please don’t pronounce it ‘kardonnay’.


Hospitality work spans crazy hours and seems to be a prime exemplar of Murphy’s Law. Everything always goes wrong on the busy days, but you have to learn to keep going — even when you’re exhausted, and even when you think you might just strangle the next person to ask you whether the milk is gluten-free. This is how you learn to go Zen in the face of chaos, to just take a deep breath, buckle down and get to work, and remember that every bad day comes to an end… eventually-can’t have rainbows without rain.

Sometimes customers will yell at you, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. The first time this happens to you, it can be pretty confronting. Someone is angry and upset about something you probably can’t control, but they’re taking it out on you anyway. What you need to remember is that most of the time, it’s not about you, and you shouldn’t let them upset you. Even outside of work, people will get angry with you for things that are probably not your fault, and often it will be easier to just let them be angry and hope they feel guilty afterward. Stand tall, and remember, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Some people are just assholes.

what are some valuable life lessons you’ve learned from your career?


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