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My experience as a waitress in Australia

I thought I would have more time during my school break to work on this blog. How wrong was I. I ended up working on average 65 hours a week. It’s the holidays season so of course, there are so many casual hospitality vacancies. I work at 3 jobs as a waitress: at an events venue/catering company, a cafe, and a hotel restaurant. There were days where I started at 6am and went home at 1am.
It’s truly been an eye-opening experience and dare I say, working as a waitress has been one of my favorite jobs.

I know it sounds surprising to so many of my friends. Some asked why didn’t I apply for a receptionist, retail, or admin job (which sounded less demanding) or continued some of my freelance writing or consulting gigs.
But after 3.5 years of working in an office, I definitely want a break from a life sitting in front of the computer and never-ending stress about work, even after hours. As I start a new life in Australia and starting from the bottom, I want all fresh new experience. Plus, the idea of working as a waitress has always intrigued me.

I was lucky enough to be able to work at all my ideal locations. I especially love working at this very popular art space in the city, with the most coveted parties, functions, and award shows. I used to dream of working in the film world because they have the fanciest parties (lol). Well now, even though I’m not invited to those parties (haha), I get to work in them :) I wish I could share with you the exact names of the venue and the catering company but for my own privacy, I will need to leave the details out.

party event

free flow of champagne
 So envious of the free flow of champagne

I have learned so much since working as a waitress and the experience has been forming me some crucial productive habits.
I wish I started working as a waitress when I was even younger, because truly i believe this is the best job you could get while being a student or in-between paths.
You get to interact with a wide range of industries, meet a diverse range of people, learn lifelong transferable skills, and earn a hefty paycheck (at least in Australia, especially thanks to weekends and public holidays pay rate).

I didn’t want to finish this year without any blog update. As “busy working as a waitress” has been my excuse for being MIA, I thought it would be fitting to write about this new experience: why i love it, all the things I’ve learned, and why you should do it as well.

(Disclaimer: To illustrate this post, most photos are taken from official public social media accounts of events happening at my work venue. Of course, I cannot use my phone while working. You will see how even though it’s the same venue, each event looks drastically different. ) 

1. The work ends with the shift

When I worked in an office, of course, the work never ended at 5pm. You either stay longer in the office or bring the work home. All the projects were always ongoing so the stress never ended, even if it was the weekends. I constantly had to worry about work 24/7. My mind was exhausted all the time. I could never enjoyed my vacation fully. In a world where people wear “I pulled an all-nighter” or “I work all the time” as proud workaholic badges, I’m glad to be out of that rat race for a little bit.

As a waitress, when I clock out of my shift, I’m truly done. I don’t have anything else to worry about and can enjoy other aspects of my life. This is why this job is especially perfect when you are a student or have side projects. You don’t want the stress of your casual job to affect your main projects.

As every single minute of my shift counts, I also feel a great sense of productivity after each shift.

waitress event
Spot me 😛 So short haha

2. Get paid to work out and meditate

If you work as a waitress in a busy venue, chance are you will have to walk, run, carry things, and lift a lot! My shift usually lasted at least 6 hours without much quiet time. I have also learned to lift heavy things like tables, chairs, boxes,….By the end of my shift, I felt like I have done a full on work out. Instead of paying for a gym membership, you can just work as a waiter and get paid for your work out.

At the events, I usually have to be more focused as there is a set of rigid schedule and each event is quite different. However, at my cafe job, even though it’s a very busy place, I’m used to my routine. My brain can destress and relax after a day of sitting in class learning about balance sheet, excel, and theories. After a shift, I feel like I’ve gone on 6 hours of meditation.

Again, this is why waiter is a fantastic job for students or entrepreneurs as your mind is not stretched out for too many projects.

award show setting

3. Experience different industries

Again, I cannot recommend working at an events catering company enough. If you are young and indecisive about what to do next, working for events will give you a taste of different industries. I’m very lucky to be based at one of the most beautiful and versatile venues in the city in an artsy area. As such, I get to work for a wide range of events from government functions to corporate parties to award shows to art exhibitions launches to weddings. For each type of event, I get to sense the vibe of that crowd and interact with people from that industry. It’s a great way to have more insights about your industries. Furthermore, I get to experience very cool events that otherwise, I would not be invited to. The private theme parties also inspire me to work hard and to one day, be able to throw similar parties.

4. Meet diverse coworkers

When you work as a waitress, the expectation is that this is a casual job. Everyone is a student, in transition or has other projects.You will find an diverse group of people. Some are students, some are artists, while others are in their gap year traveling and exploring the world. The conversations with co-workers are always interesting as I learn about everyone’s interests and dreams.

I feel like it’s a great support group. We are all in the same boat, working from the bottom up, and all moving toward somewhere. I have not felt this collective inspiration since the time when I lived in a long-term hostel with 16 roommates in NYC.

table set up

5. Build good work habits

One of my best friends Val works full time but is also a bartender on the side. Val and I often daydream about taking a break, bartending and waitressing around the world. (We both prefer the old-fashioned way of working real jobs while traveling rather than solely relying on making money online).

Having experience as a waitress seems to be the best training for life and a skill you can bring with you wherever you go.

I especially love how the habits of a waitress helps me becoming a more productive person. Some of the soft skills I’ve learned seem common sense: always stay busy (always be productive, always be doing something, never stand still), clean as you go, finish one task before starting another, setting priorities, how to observe and anticipate tasks, time management,…These may sound simple but in previous office jobs, they weren’t as tangible or measurable. For example, I should finish cleaning one table before starting another task. This will look very apparent if you leave a dirty table mid-way. In an office setting, this will look less visible if you have ADHD and jump from project to project. Working as a waitress has helped me absorb and sustain all these good work habits.

The variety of knowledge – from customer service to dining etiquette to proper cleaning techniques to money handling – will also carry with me in both my personal and professional life no matter what I do next.

french food

Extra: The Food 

My events venue serves fine dining food from a reputable French chef. The kitchen staff always saves extra separate serving for the wait staff whatever they cook that day. Every shift, I get to taste delicious (and free!) food during my break. I never left work hungry! :)

Plus, I’ve learned a lot about wines, their differences, and how to properly serve them (Of course, we cannot drink at work though!).

Voilà! Another long post :) I always write long posts 😛

Hope you enjoy reading about my experience as a waitress in Australia. If you ever need a break from your current path, just pick up a waiter/waitress job and it will help you figure out lots of stuffs along the way! :)

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