Bartending has long been one of the most popular professions for young people to pursue. There’s an allure of being behind a bar, pouring drinks for eager, attractive people, and raking in generous tips night after night. And while some of this may be true, it’s more realistic to temper the expectations just a bit.
Bartending can in fact be quite lucrative. However, six figure bartending jobs are usually held by experienced, professional bartenders who have worked their way up and taken advantage of appropriate networking opportunities. If you’re just starting out, it’s quite alright to have high aspirations. Just make sure your expectations are realistic.
There’s almost always a standard progression to a bartending career. If you’re coming right out of bartending school with no practical experience, you’ll likely begin your career at a small establishment or as a bar assistant in a larger restaurant. In fact, it’s very likely your first assignment won’t be bartending at all. Rather, you’ll be stocking, cleaning, and learning opening and closing procedures. It’s far from glamorous, but it’s a start.
Your First Few Weeks As A Bartender
Once you’ve found a job and completed the requisite on site training, you’ll be at the bottom of the bartender pecking order. You’ll need experience, and the best way to get it is during the less crowded shifts under close supervision. You should also expect to be assigned shifts no one else wants.
While you learn the ropes, expect to spend a lot of time developing and building relationships, on both sides of the bar. You’ll need to get to know the regulars and their wants and needs. Just as important, you’ll need to effectively interact with servers, assistants, managers, kitchen staff, and other bartenders. Your interpersonal abilities will get a workout and you’ll need to apapt quickly. There will be a lot of eyes watching you!
You’ll also find it important to have sense of humor, because new bartenders always make a few mistakes. This is generally expected, but be prepared to accept criticism with grace and humility. Just like any other job, also be ready to absorb all sorts of new information, like names, procedures, and customer preferences.
While this article isn’t intended to scare anyone away from pursuing bartending as a job or career, make sure you enter the profession with your eyes wide open. Your first few weeks, and even months, will be challenging and even frustrating. It’ll be up to you to navigate through these choppy waters. When you do, and things begin to fall into place, you’ll likely find bartending an active, challenging job with potentially great rewards.
Author: Jim HofmanThis author has published 10 articles so far.