If someone had told me a year ago that I would be a restaurant supervisor in downtown Newport, Rhode Island, I would have laughed in their face. But here I am, 20 years old and able to add that title to my resume.
But let’s backtrack to March 6th, 2016. This was the day where I was reluctant to attend Johnson & Wales’ Spring career fair. Why was I reluctant? Probably because I worked 40 hours a week on top of being a full-time student and the thought of landing an unpaid internship was terrifying. Unfortunately, rent does not pay itself. Mommy and daddy do enough for me so even thinking about putting the burden of paying my rent was beyond me and also financially impossible.
At the time, I was a third-year student looking for an internship in event coordinating or catering sales for my Fall 2016 trimester. I aspire to be an event planner and eventually open my own full-service event planning company. I must admit, Jlo in the Wedding Planner is my inspiration.
I had stopped at a couple of catering companies just to get an idea for jobs after graduation and decided to take a last lap before heading out. Little did I know that the last lap would be where I made friendly eye contact with the catering sales manager from The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina. I guess you could say the rest was history.
This woman who had the position I hope to be in one day looked at my resume for a total of two seconds. She saw I had banquet and catering experience and asked me how I felt about supervising a restaurant in Downtown Newport for the summer. She admitted she liked my personality just from me saying hello and shaking her hand and wanted to interview me as soon as possible.
Being completely overwhelmed and excited, I agreed and thought, why not? Ten minutes into the interview, she offered me the job of Food and Beverage Supervisor of the Saltwater restaurant that is part of The Newport Harbor Hotel.
The only thing I regret was not doing research on the average rate for restaurant supervisors in Newport. When the time comes to negotiating your own salary or hourly rates, you must remember that location is key. I ended up settling for a much lower rate than I could have gotten if I had done the research.
Fast forward to now. Looking back on the past few months of being in a supervisor position, I realized I learned more than just how to make a new drink, or what to do when a server charges the wrong card to the wrong bill. I learned that this is a tough industry and being the same age as most of your employees is even tougher.
There’s a harsh reality to accepting job positions that not everyone would consider accepting at such a young age. There’s also just the harsh reality of this thing college kids are half excited for, half terrified for called adulting. Management at a young age sounds pretty badass, right? There’s nothing more respectable than someone who never stops their grind, but just be aware of the not so badass things that come along with it – such as facing a paycut.
Going from server in a restaurant/banquet facility to a supervisor in food & beverage is basically like having a bad break-up with your bank account. Yes, you get the cool title BUT servers get the cool wad of cash on the weekend that make up your paycheck for the whole 45 hour work week.
The other harsh reality I had to face was being treated differently because of my age.
Having to be in charge of people my age is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. It makes working enjoyable because of common interests and conversations are easier, but it gets tough when it comes to reprimanding.
It is great to be well-liked by your employees, but when they see you as a friend before a manager, they will most definitely take advantage of you.
This happened to me with a couple of servers. My age is not only to blame, I was thinking of a 20-year-old at times instead of being their supervisor. There were lines that I should not have crossed.
As much as you want to go out and get drinks or have lunch dates, it does not work out in the end. I felt more worn out trying to get servers and bussers to clean at the end of the night than when I was running around on the floor for guests.
There’s also the fact that you will be in charge of people older than you. At first, it is incredibly awkward to have to tell someone almost twice your age what or what not to do, but at the end of the day, it is your job. Forbes had a great article pertaining to young leaders and how to effectively manage older generations.
You have to be prepared to face unique challenges such as having to work harder to gain respect and prove yourself just because of the stigma against your age.
Don’t worry, though, there are a lot of great things that come along with being a restaurant supervisor. Since table touching is a must, you never know who will be sitting at that table and the networking opportunities every shift are unbelievable. Working at different properties in different positions has made me realize that your coworkers are the ultimate deal breakers. Every place that I loved working at is because I loved who I worked with.
This summer was a tough one. I felt that I was underpaid for the amount of work I was putting in, I had an HOUR COMMUTE, I felt the pressure of having to get our service scores up, and I had to try to get 19 and 20 years olds to take me seriously and do as I say. If I did not have an incredible boss who helped me grow as a woman as well as in the industry, and if my staff did not put a smile on my face the way they did (besides when they did not listen), I would have lasted a month, if that.
You are continuously learning throughout life, whether it be by sitting in a classroom learning from a professor, from a friend, from an article on Snapchat, or from real life experiences. I’ve learned how it is important to take those chances on new experiences to find out what you like and what you don’t. From this experience, I have learned I never want to work in restaurants again, which is okay. I learned something that I would not have learned otherwise, and that’s the important part.
So go ahead and experience.