Youth perspective: soft skills matter: guest column
Experience taking phone orders can bolster an employee’s listening skills, confidence and manners. Photo: Fotolia by Adobe Stock
Who would have thought that a first-time pizza job would teach you lifelong skills? I mean, you go to your first job not really thinking about the skills you are learning but more about the money you are making.
At only 17 years old, you are starting to plan for your career. You are picking up as many shifts as you can at the pizza shop, saving to pay for your post-secondary education.
Fast-forward a few years, and now you have almost completed your college diploma. You start to look back at your first job and think, “Wow, I really did learn a lot!”
I know I am not the only one. Thinking back to when I was working at a pizza shop in my hometown, I recall two co-workers and I were discussing the skills we learned while we were there. We all agreed that the simple skills such as customer service, money handling and organization helped us to get where we are today on our path to a career.
Employers may be thinking when hiring on new high school students, they will have someone who is going to stay for just a couple of years before they leave for college or university. What they may not realize is that they are helping us learn and develop new skills we will use for a lifetime.
Rachel is currently studying landscape architecture at the University of Guelph. One thing Rachel Fraser appreciates is the one-on-one work with customers. While it can be stressful when it is busy, it taught her how to be patient.
“I hated working directly with customers but now I believe that probably helped me to deal with clients and
other group members I work with now. It taught me how to be gracious even while people were yelling at me for problems I did or didn’t cause,” Fraser says.
For Meghan Harke, the teamwork skills she learned were the most valuable. Being enrolled at Fanshawe College for business accounting, she has to work as part of a team quite often.
“It taught me that there are all types of people in the workplace. I learned that you don’t get to choose your co-workers but you still have to work with them to meet the company’s goals,” she says. She
continues to use those teamwork skills when at school.
For myself, one job task I disliked doing then that I appreciate now, is taking phone orders. Almost every weekend when I first started, I was on phones. I started to get really good and learned how listening, confidence and manners went a long way.
Now, looking back, I see it really helped prepare me to talk to people over the phone in a business context. As a student in the public relations program at Durham College, I learned that you have to make and take a lot of phone calls, so my phone experience in the pizzeria has helped make that come naturally.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
One thing we all agreed on when it comes to the busy times of the shift, is that it’s important to remember we are not perfect. We all make mistakes and at the end of the day everyone will get their order.
“It taught me that messing up at work is no big deal because someone else will mess up more than you next week anyways,” Fraser says jokingly. All the staff might get caught up in the heat of the moment but as long as we learn from our mistakes and laugh at ourselves later, that’s what really matters.
Looking back now, who would have thought that a first-time pizza job would teach you lifelong skills? Not us. But it did! •
Kayleigh Scott is a second-year public relations student at Durham College in Oshawa, Ont., who will be graduating from the program in October 2018. Kayleigh has worked in the pizza industry for three years. She is excited to share what she’s learned and provide some insight for pizzeria operators.
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