Bartending Isn’t a Real Job
By Sarah Freeman Junior Marketing Associate, Hospitality and Tourism Specialist
As someone who just completed her undergraduate degree, I often find myself answering the question of, “Well aren’t you going to get a real job now?” It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to study, constantly changing majors and bouncing around to different colleges. But finally, at the age of 25 I finished. During the last 5 semesters of my college career I was enrolled as a full-time student, taking 4-6 classes per semester, as well as working full time in a restaurant. I supported myself paying for my own apartment, car, insurance, and so on. All the while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. (This is by no means intended to sound like bragging, rather putting the situation into perspective).
Here I am, almost 5 months after graduating and I am still bartending at the same restaurant I have worked at for 3 years now. The same restaurant that made it possible for me to be independent while pursuing my education. The same restaurant where I landed a part time marketing job from showing interest in what was going on in someone else’s life. While I was still in school people were very supportive of my job as a bartender. My how the tables have turned. Since I’ve graduated, my employment as a bartender seems to be frowned upon. And because my marketing job is only part time, it also apparently counts for nothing. I suddenly feel all this pressure to, “Get a real job.”
What does that mean!? Can you please define what a real job is to me? The last time I checked bartending is a REAL job that makes REAL money that pays REAL bills. I understand I do not get the benefits of a “real job,” (health insurance, paid vacation, etc.) but please refrain from trying to belittle me. As an independent 25-year-old female I think I am doing a damn good gob at supporting myself. Not to mention, I enjoy what I do, and make a lot of REAL money doing it. I do not aspire to be a bartender for the rest of my life, trust me. But I also don’t see myself stopping anytime soon, even when I do find a 9-5 job.
This has begun to frustrate me, ruffle my feathers, or as Peter Griffin would say, grind my gears. Maybe some people don’t understand what it’s like trying to find a job out of college, let alone one that allows you to live on your own AND pay back student loans. Look at all the college graduates who move back home while in pursuit of a “real job,” or all the young adults who have found one, yet still work a second job to make ends meet.
My point is: don’t let anyone make you feel like your job is unimportant or unreal. Work is work – no matter what your title or position is. And if you enjoy it, more power to you. My Dad has always said to me, “If you find a job that you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life.” For now, this is my life, and I’m ok with that. That is not to say that my current situation is forever, yet just another chapter in life that will eventually come to an end. To my customers... maybe I am just the tall, curly haired bartender. That doesn’t offend me, but it’s a shame if that’s all they see.