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What Experience in the Service Industry Gives You

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

Something I wish I knew when I was newly fifteen, looking for any job that would hire me, was that something money cannot buy is self-respect. As a young sophomore in a suburban New York high school, my first job was viewed as a rite of passage. A sign of growing up and learning about money and how to save up for the future. So, my sister got me the interview and there I was in way over my head, willing to do anything to please my boss and the costumers. This is my little story and some things I wish I was told while working at my first job.

My first job at a minimum-wage ice cream chain came with a very interesting boss. She would stay for my whole shift to talk with me while I did my tasks (which included reloading the soft serve machine, changing out the old hard ice cream for new ones, restocking, and cake making, all while tending to customers and mobile orders). This was a huge time waster on her part, especially when she would go on and on about her radical political opinions and casually racist remarks. And although I had little respect for her, she was a fine boss when it came to the basic stuff. I was able to pick my own hours and get covers whenever I needed. And at the end of the day, despite my privilege, I knew quitting wouldn’t be an option to my parents, who insisted this was the best life experience I could get (and they were right of course). This meant that I had to learn one of the hardest lessons: how to get your boss to like you. And that is something that I’ve always struggled with. There is such a fine line between your boss being able to walk all over you and your boss just being bossy, and usually the difference is whether or not you question the way you are treated. The times that my boss respected me had a pretty clear

connection to the times that I stood up for myself the most. It’s so important to set a precedent with authority figures in your life. In the long run, it should gain you more respect.

At the end of the day, it was the customers who made my job feel particularly difficult. The truth is that I quickly learned that no money could buy the respect of the people that I served. And that is who they were: the people that I served. To them, I was a random girl who they would never come across again. Someone they could release their frustrations onto, someone they could talk down to. And they always did. I discovered a lot about humanity during my time as an ice cream server. I learned children can tip more than adults. I learned men will always call me darling and feeding into it gave me better tips. Women could be kind, but they could also be the cruelest. And it always came down to my place. At the end of the day, they viewed me as less than, and no veil of pleases and thank yous could conceal the unspoken truth of it all. That I would do whatever they asked of me. Because that was my job.

My advice for those youngins out there who are searching for their first job is to remember what you’re worth. The service industry is filled with people looking to exploit the people who don’t know any better. Of course, we all go through the phases in our lives where we hate our jobs or our bosses or the costumers who scream at us, but there is a difference between having a hard day at work and hating your job. It’s hard to hold on to your identity when it’s removed from you the second you put the uniform on, so make sure to reassure that identity on your off days. Make sure to stand up to your boss who doesn’t respect your time or your tips.

Although you are in a position of little power behind that counter, never forget that this is simply your job, not your identity. That is something I wish I knew when I was a lonely little ice cream scooper.

Brenna Parker

Scranton '25

Hey :) I'm Brenna and I'm a junior English major, communications minor. I'm honored to be the editor of our Scranton Chapter of HerCampus!