Life is rough for students. We’re always close to broke, but because of lectures and seminars, we don’t have time to take up weekday jobs in term time (or most of us don’t, at least). So we turn to our other option; a relatively simple trade to learn which can pay us 2-3 days out of the weekend (incuding fridays).
Welcome to the world of bar work.
The assumption that working in a bar is fun because you are around alcohol is incorrect, unless you get as much of a kick out of watching other people get drunk as actually getting drunk yourself, in which case I can’t judge you. But there are ways to survive in this newfound hell;
1. Don’t take crap
This is my biggest piece of advice for anyone working behind a bar. I don’t care if it’s a club, pub or a restaurant, it still applies. It’s also the broadest point in this article, because it applies to a lot of situations; whether it’s a loud customer complaining about having to wait all of thirty seconds when you’re covering the bar alone, or if your manager is asking for a volunteer to do an extra shift on a day you had set aside for catching up with your studies. You have to set yourself boundaries for how far you are willing to go for others, in the case of customers, it can be as simple as refusing to pick up the mountain of coppers they’ve dropped in a puddle of beer to pay for their pint. This rule is really important for students working part time, if you set aside a day off to catch up with uni work, don’t let your manager take it away from you, and beware of bank holidays, they can be sneaky about slipping you an extra shift or two when you’re not aware.
2. Take a break
If your manager is telling you that they’re too busy to let you take a break, then you need to set them straight. Even if you’re understaffed, giving each person as little as five minutes to sit down and get some fresh air after a rush is something they’ll appreciate, and they won’t mind doing the extra work to cover other people’s breaks because they know everybody is doing the same for them.
3. Have fun with your coworkers
If you can’t enjoy the company of the people you work with, then obviously your experience at work will be ten times more miserable. Obviously when you start working at a new place it will be a little awkward at first, but I’ve always found that most people are friendly enough to throw you a metaphorical bone. I know there’s an argument to be made for not hanging out with the people you work with, because you only see them when you’re at work, and therefore miserable, but I personally love hanging out with my work friends. You know, as long as it’s in a different pub.
4. Have a drink, for god’s sake
Okay, I changed my mind, this is definitely my most important rule. If you’ve had an awful night, for any number of reasons, whether it was just hilariously busy, or you had terrible customers screaming at you from every angle, or you just made a monstrous error in something, or all of the above, as soon as you can; get a beer and forget about it. If you work in an independent bar you might be able to drink on the job, which is always fun. Personally I work in a chain-run bar, but if we’ve had a busy night then our manager is usually kind enough to buy us all a beer. My personal favourite is anything belgian, bottles under 8% ABV don’t count.