The Way to Make Bartending Work for You
Bartending is a Platform, Not a Career
I am a firm believer that bartending is a stepping stone in one’s life and not a career move. This is especially true if you decided to pursue a college education prior to becoming a bartender. Now don’t get me wrong, bartenders make GREAT money. Depending on the night you work and at what establishment, you can rake in a couple hundred dollars in a single shift. Although the money is enticing, there is too much lost when not applying the degree you slaved (and paid) for.
Here are a few reasons why bartending can be more of a negative in life, than positive:
- While fun for the first few years, once you are ready to “settle down” or grow up, bartending isn’t as attractive as it once was. Throw a kid or a spouse in the mix, and it’ll be hard to enjoy life with them when you’re working nights and weekends. Say goodbye to bedtime stories.
- The amount of free time and the amount of money can make it hard to part ways. It’s hard to visualize and comprehend why you should leave and take a 9-5 where you would make less starting off. It's this short sighted way of looking at the job that can be detrimental to someone's life, as the long term opportunity can be overlooked.
- Although there is a lot of socializing as a bartender, there will be times when you will miss out on the more important social events - the one's with friends and family - as they’ll usually take place on a weekend during one of your shifts.
- The money isn’t constant. As a bartender, you can kill it one weekend and wonder where the money went the next.
Yes, you can make more money right out of the gate after college as a bartender (especially when jobs are scarce), but the longer you stay a bartender then the further back in the game you’ll be when you finally decide to begin your career. Once you do decide to leave the bartending life and find a solid gig as a 28-year-old, if may be too late and you may find yourself working under a 25-year-old who already worked their way up to a supervisor or manager position. It’s not the worst thing, but given a couple years in a profession, the amount of pay increases/promotional opportunity can make up or surpass the amount of tips one could garner as a bartender. Plus, half the time you’re working at a career position, you're basically hanging out like you're at a bar but you replaced the liquor with a water cooler.
If You’re Going to Bartend, Then Choose Wisely
If you are going to bartend (not as a secondary job but as your main source of income), then make sure you are doing it right. Here’s what I mean about that:
- If you’re a business major, you should try to ba tend in a high-end environment preferably near a business district. Chances are there will be a lot of sales managers, executives, or top dogs from the local business who choose to grab a happy hour drink at local establishments. If bartending there, everyday could be an informal job interview. While those CEO's are at your bar enjoying a drink with a client or just having one to relax, they could be in a position where their business or company needs more man-power and are looking to hire. And guess what, you could fit the build. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
- Or let’s say you went to school to become a teacher. We all know a teacher who loves a glass of wine (especially with friends). If you’re having trouble finding a teaching position, work at a bar that is in the center of a big school district. Same as the business situation, if you can befriend some patrons, you never know when they’ll give you a heads up on an opening or even vouch for you if you apply.
Basically, what it comes down to is that if you are going to bartend, then treat every day as an interview. You never know who you could impress and what they may have in mind. Plus, it can’t hurt in terms of making more tips to keep this mindset in mind.
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