Successful Career Lessons You Learn Working At A Restaurant

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. All opinions are 100% mine.

Restaurant meals with family have always been memory makers for us.

It’s a moment in time where we can each enjoy our favorite meal and talk about our hopes and dreams… we look forward to those times together and plan them into our everyday life and our travels. 

We were recently in Nevada trying a vegan Chinese food restaurant. We were excited to be able to enjoy all of our favorite dishes and we were talking about how creative the chef was and how awesome it was that he had this canvas to share his creativity.That conversation lead to how working in a restaurant is more than just a job, it’s a great place to learn long term skills and be able to develop your talents.

Pete and I started talking about his first job working at a restaurant in Pennsylvania when he was a teenager.

He shared everything he learned from that job that has helped him in his work life today.

  • People skills- He learned to really listen to what others were saying.
  • Work hard- Every moment at work was spent working hard to make the experience good for the customers.
  • Problem solving- He learned to brainstorm options and solutions in a fast paced environment. 
  • Be open to learning opportunities- There are a lot of ways to advance in your position, be open to all learning opportunities.
  • Customer service- In business your customers are the most important people, he learned to always keep them happy.
  • Time management- Your time is limited, he learned to prioritize.

We both agreed that we would really like for our girls to have their first jobs in a restaurant. There are so many advancement opportunities and so many life lessons and skills to be learned. The restaurant industry trains America’s workforce, offering one in three Americans their first job.

It was interesting to us to see the Food and Beverage Service Competency Model, a guide created to help inform the industry’s workforce development, training and certification standards and approaches, while laying out clear skills sets needed to advance in the industry. It was developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). 

It highlighted exactly what Pete has always said about working in the restaurant industry, including diverse and transferable employability skills, ranging from reliability and dependability to business leadership. 

Almost any career path can include the restaurant and foodservice industry. I often forget that it’s not just for those that like to cook. Positions range from traditional titles of cook, waiter and chef, to hiring manager, marketer, supply chain manager, finance operator and business owner. Anything someone wants to do can be done within in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

Have you ever worked in the restaurant industry? What lessons have you learned?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I firmly believe everyone should work customer service at some point in their lives. It really teaches you a lot of valuable skills.

  • I love trying new restaurants! I also know running one teaches all sorts of life lessons for sure! Not an easy business.

  • My oldest is a server and I have learned the importance of tipping.
    If she doesn’t get 15% tip she pretty much pays for the table to stay and that totally hurts her.
    They don’t even make minimum wage 🙁

  • I used to work in a restaurant in high school and I definitely walked away with some new skills. I definitely learned how to think quickly so I didn’t get overwhelmed.

  • I worked for many years in the customer service industry. It is very important for our kids to learn customer service and working well with the public.

  • My first job was as a hostess. I learned how to deal with different people and personalities.

  • My brother worked in restuarants for several years and even ended up graduating from culinary school. Now he’s a Master Plumber! lol You are right though, there are several qualities that he has learned from his restaurant work that come in handy even in a totally different industry!

  • I worked one summer at a Restaurant in Yellowstone and loved it. I ddi learn that people some times think they are better than you are because you are serving them. I also learned not every boss is a good manager.

  • I’ve worked in a restaurant setting before in an officers mess and my husband is a manager of a restaurant and has worked in them all his life. I agree and there’s tons to learn!

  • I worked at Taco Bell for about two days when I was 17, lol. Other than that, no experience working in a restaurant. However, both my sisters did and they learned that you must always be alert and listen to your customers! Pay attention!

  • I was a japanese chef and also a waitress 🙂 I enjoyed work at restaurant.. it’s not an easy job but i love it. Where did you go for chinese foods in Vegas? I used to live in Vegas for 5 years.

  • Working in a customer service job can be hard at times, but I think you learn so much. Your food looks like someone is definitely doing their job right!

  • So true! I worked at a restaurant in college and when I first started I was expecting it to be easy street. Man was I wrong. So much to learn 🙂

  • I worked in a restaurant when I was in college! They really seem to try to assign you at least one more table than you can reasonably handle!

  • I think everyone needs to work customer service once in their life at least. It is crazy what you go through as a restaurant employee all of these lessons are so true.

  • I have not tried working in a restaurant or fast food chain when I was young. I guess being employed in such establishments does make you learn people skills and patience.

  • This can go for working retail as well. Now that I have worked in retail (as a mere associate) I have a whole new appreciation for owning my own retail store.

  • This is a great post and many people have not worked at a restaurant so they don’t know what it takes to run one. I worked at a few of them in my younger years. I learned it takes team work to run a smooth and awesome restaurant. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’ve never worked in a restaurant industry, but just like you, we always make memories whenever we go to the restaurant. And we love Chinese food too!

  • For years I have worked in customer service (like most of America at some point) but I think it’s really important for the future generations to learn these skills as well. There is nothing that can ruin a business like BAD customer service.

  • Over the years I have always told people that it should be a requirement in high school or college that each student either work retail or in a restaurant. You really appreciate the value of customer service and learn how to handle yourself in public. It amazes me how often I go shopping and some people are so freaking rude. I would bet if they had to work retail, that attitude would change.

  • My first job was in a restaurant and my brother started at a Burger King in High School and is now an executive Chef for 3 golf courses

  • I never worked in retail or the restaurant industry oddly enough. I worked three part time jobs to put myself through College but I started off in banking which oddly enough at the entry level does have quite a bit of similarity, you have to really listen, prioritize your time and put customer needs and service first!

  • Working at a restaurant might be a different experience where you come across so many couples, friends & families & I am sure it is going to be a lot of fun altogether. As you meet different people you get to face different scenarios & you get much experience out of all of them.

  • My first job was as a waitress, and I held that title many times over the years I was growing up, eventually becoming a bartender before giving up the service industry for good. I think everyone should work retail and restaurant jobs at least once in their life – you learn a LOT. (And you become less of a jerk customer to others.)

  • Oh yes. Nothing will teach you customer service quite like food service positions! I know that I wouldn’t know much without some of my job experiences!

  • My family used to run a restaurant when I was a child. I grew up in the back office almost. It really teaches you about how to treat people and giving good customer service. 🙂

  • Yes I have worked in restaurant before. I am a firm believer that everyone should have to work in one and maybe they won’t be so quick to criticize the servers.

  • Oh yes! I was a waitress for 4 years. Helped put me through college and I did learn A LOT! I learned how to communicate and work in a team, people skills, etc. It’s a great way to really get to understand people and their attitudes too.

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