Working in Food Service


Justin Trujillo, Staff Writer

I will use the terms “fast food” and “food service” interchangeably throughout this article.

In April of 2021, I was frustrated. Looking for a job as a teen with no work experience can be frustrating. No calls, no interviews, no money. I applied to about 4 places and only 2 of them contacted me but no luck. After a month, I realized a huge flaw and something I didn’t consider in my job hunt; I was not applying to food service jobs.

Food service is one of the most looked down upon industries to work in. People think fast food is gross, it doesn’t pay well, and the work conditions are not good. While I will not disagree with those sentiments, I now believe there absolutely nothing wrong with working in food service and I highly encourage it. At the time I was looking for a job, I didn’t feel this way. I had to end up shoving my pride to the side and applying at the same restaurant my friend worked at. This was the first place I applied to in the food industry and frankly, I was scared and nervous because of all the horror stories I had hear about food service. Within one week, I received a call for an interview, that same day, I was hired on the spot.

After almost 5 months of working at the same restaurant, I can confidently say that listening to my friends who worked in fast food was the best decision I made. I don’t love my job, my job will often frustrate me, the working conditions are decent, but I took a huge step forward my putting my preconceived notions to the side and just applying to a fast-food job. There are huge shortages in food service workers and for good reason. Many places do not have good working conditions and do not pay well, but due to such high demand in these jobs, companies are forced to raise their wages and improve working conditions. Many fast-food restaurants will just skip interviews entirely and hire you just because they need workers. There are even a few fast-food restaurants that pay more than retail stores right now. Some restaurants are offering up to $1000 sign-on bonuses. While money is the #1 factor for most people when deciding a job, there is something huge that food service offers that is not listed on the benefits.

Working in food service teaches you a lot about people and society. For better or for worse, I feel like I have a much better idea and understanding of people. At work, I see and interact with all different kinds of people. I get the opportunity to talk to people of all ages, all backgrounds, and parts of the world. As great as this can be, you will soon learn things you didn’t want to learn.

While interacting with people on this basis can be great, but the ugly side of interacting with people is dealing with people. People treat people horribly. While I have been pretty fortunate in escaping these situations by pulling the “let me ask my manager” card, some of my coworkers haven’t been so lucky. I have seen firsthand, customers yell and curse at employees and almost fight them for simple mistakes. If I’m being honest, the customer is not always right in these cases. Outdated business models and understaffing lead to a lot of tension between management and employees. Oftentimes, we make mistakes as employees, and rather than customers simply making employees aware of these mistakes, they will get angry and take their anger out on employees who are often not aware of these mistakes.

Another huge factor not taken into account is the stress online delivery apps place on employees. Many restaurants’ business models did not make room for online orders. I know this is not just a problem where I work. I have spoken to people who work in other restaurants who have the same issue. Rather than having someone dedicated to taking care of online orders, the online orders are often just added on to the workload of already overworked employees. This adds the factor of delivery drivers getting frustrated with long wait times during rush hours and canceling their orders. That then requires these food delivery companies to send out a new driver to collect the food that will be cold by the time it ends up getting to the customer. In the end, this only ends up benefiting the food company and delivery company.

The more I write, the more I realize how much working in fast food sucks. I might just change my entire opinion at this point. Maybe you shouldn’t work in fast food. But don’t listen to me. Society told me not to work in fast food. My friends told me to work in fast food. I listened to both sides and decided to do it and make my own judgments. I will stand by what I said originally, you should work in fast food. But I could tell you to do anything and in the end, it would just be my opinion and from my judgments. If you don’t want to work in fast food, then trust your judgments. I am not writing this to defend food service as an industry or make absurd claims about how fantastic working in food service is. Your first job won’t be the job of your dreams. Work can suck no matter what and if you really want a job, don’t be frustrated when you don’t get calls back applying to retail.