When I first got a job at a local coffee shop in my college town, the first question people asked me was always: "Is it fun to make all those drinks?" And hey, I can't blame them. Having a job at a coffee shop is often associated with being a barista. However, what I soon came to learn is there is way more to working at a coffee shop than making drinks. I argue that on top of learning valuable professional skills, I have also grown as an individual. Here are three things I have learned so far. 

1. Mindfulness is the Key to Multi-Tasking (And Pretty Much Anything Else I Do).  

So far, the main job I have had is working the cash register. However, this is a multi-faceted position. I have to welcome customers in, take orders (correctly), grab drinks such as iced teas and cold brews, and put pastries in bags or on plates. However, in the midst of a morning rush, having multiple tasks to complete can get overwhelming. Managing my time, thinking on my feet, and staying calm is key to my success but I'll admit, I don't always succeed (surprising, I know). 

Oftentimes, I catch myself mid-freak out, and remind myself to breathe. 99% of the time it works, and I am able to calm down and proceed with my job. Sometimes, it doesn't work and that is ok. Awareness is the first step. Over time, I will get better and better at mindfulness, but for now, I will take that 99%. Next in line!

2. Little Acts of Kindness Can Go a Long Way. 

Coming to a coffee shop, most people have one goal: order coffee, pick up said coffee, and leave or stay and hang out, study, etc. That is my goal as well, especially working at the register. However, it is also my hope to make the experience a bit more personal than that. I welcome people in with a smile, acknowledge and appreciate their patience waiting, and most importantly ask: "How are you doing?" For some people, this simple question is all it takes to make one's day. When a customer smiles and says thank you for asking, I smile too. Another simple act of kindness can present itself in the form of a small compliment. When I admire someone's shirt or jewelry or even nail polish, I am connecting with them on a deeper level, showing that I care, that I see them. 

The most important thing I have learned about interactions with customers is that no matter the kind of day I am having, I always need to emanate kindness and care. This, combined with showing up as my best and truest self, I often find that customer interactions make my own day better. I challenge each and every one of you to practice random acts of kindness, whether or not you work in the service industry. 

3. Making Mistakes Is Okay, as Long as You Learn from Them

This lesson took me a while to come to terms with. I am someone who dwells on mistakes and overthinks, but with this job, there is no time for that. I started with zero retail experience, especially not in a coffee shop. To go in with the expectation that I would do everything perfectly on the first try was unrealistic. The first day on the job, I broke a glass. Did I think I would get fired on the spot? Duh. Did I? Obviously not. Ever since then, I have been very aware of how I handle glassware (no more broken glasses...yet at least).

At the end of the day, mistakes are essential for learning and becoming a better worker and person. They help one grow and develop new skill sets. For so much of my life, I have been scared to ask how to do something new because of the fear of messing up. But in reality, if I don't ask for help, then I will mess up regardless. This job has taught me to put myself out there and be confident in learning new things. 

Concluding Coffee Shop Thoughts...

I have had this job for just over a month now and I can truly say it is my happy place. Practicing mindfulness, combined with showing kindness, and not beating myself up over mistakes have all played a role in the success I have had so far. And I haven't even pulled espresso shots or made latte art yet! One day and one customer at a time is the best motto I can follow. Oh and don't cry over spilled coffee. Onto the next challenge!