5 Benefits of Working Barista Jobs After College
For most college graduates, serving coffee is not an ideal use of their degree. Still, a barista job is much better than being unemployed, and it comes with a surprising set of perks. It’s a good temporary job for young and independent individuals who are transitioning from academia to the professional arena.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider becoming a barista, while you search for more substantial employment:
Coffee is the second largest commodity in the world, making it a stable industry with continuous job opportunities. Many of us live in a city full of Starbucks so it’s no surprise that selling caffeinated drinks is a big business. Here in the U.S., “third wave”, or specialty coffee shops, are expanding throughout the country. Therefore, whether you get hired and trained as a corporate barista or an artisanal one, you’ll be able to find a job almost wherever you move. Brewing a tasty cup and designing fancy latte art are actually valuable and impressive skills to have, since we live in a major coffee drinking culture.
Professional baristas are in high demand these days and it can be a competitive industry, too. However, if you’re not interested in having a career in the coffee world, you’ll still be able to use your entry-level café position as a means to build up your resume; working in food retail will give you sales and customer service experience. As a barista, you’ll have the opportunity to improve your communication and social skills, as well as become a more understanding and levelheaded employee. Your temper may be tested when you’re serving demanding clients or working alongside unamiable coworkers, but you can use those circumstances to develop your patience and empathy for others.
Hiring managers like applicants who are capable of dealing with various types of people, and in stressful situations, without losing their calm. They also prefer hiring employees who are either currently employed or lack noticeable gaps in their employment history. You’re almost always a more favorable applicant if you’re working than if you’re not.
Decent Hourly Wages
It’s not just better than being out of work; it’s also possible to earn decent money as a full-time barista. Many specialty coffee shops pay decent hourly wages. Of course, servers and bartenders have the potential to earn great tips during busy hours, but baristas get the better paychecks.
After I finished grad school, I spent an entire year making $11/hour plus tips while working as a barista in Brooklyn, New York. I was forced to get a little frugal, defer my student loans, and occasionally depend on my credit card, but I did manage to pay the rest of my bills, while sharing a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate. However, I was very lucky not to have any major expenses or dependents relying on me financially.
While the battle for a living wage continues, it’s important to recognize that, even with a relatively well-paying café job, food service is difficult permanent career (unless you’re a successful chef or restaurateur). If you can afford to take on a barista job, stay realistic but also positive by reminding yourself that it’s temporary and preferable to a lot of other starter jobs.
For me, the best part about being a barista was having a more accommodating schedule than a typical administrative job. While many café managers will ask for an open availability in the beginning, it’s possible to carve out your own personal part-time or full-time workweek after a few months. You may have to work early mornings and some weekends, but it’s not difficult to request off days for vacation time or switch shifts with coworkers. If you’re able to create a schedule that caters to your life outside of the coffee shop, you’ll have time to dedicate to your creative projects or take on an internship, while continuing to search for other work.
As you take the time to find your ideal profession, or consider your next major life step after college, you may as well work in a place where you get complimentary coffee! Not only will you get to drink it for free, but a majority of cafés also let their employees take home free beans. Coffee’s shelf life is arguable, but many specialty coffee shops will pull their retail bags off the shelves after a few weeks, in order to consistently offer fresh roasted beans. Since a pound of coffee can average anywhere from $10-20, depending on the brand, getting bags for free is a sweet perk. I definitely miss bringing home free Stumptown Coffee every month.
Being a barista has the potential to be a fun way to support yourself after college, as long as you don’t have major expenses and remember that it’s just temporary. You’ll get the most out of your café position if you view it as a transitional phase in your life, where you can gain some useful professional experiences, before you find work that’s more suitable for you
Javaher Nooryani is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. She has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in English & American Literature from NYU. As a former tutor and advisor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is glad to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college.