While the infamous “college-educated barista” days may be coming to a close, according to a new research done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the stigma of it still lingers on: the stereotype of a bright, yet disillusioned college grad underemployed at a local Starbucks, discussing political ethos and steaming their future away.
However, rather than perceiving the job as a permanent dead end, it should be similarly regarded as another vital transition — a modern-day rite of passage.
Due to our fast-paced generation, the rocky voyage into adulthood can often feel rushed. From our elementary school years through high school, we are encouraged to attend college, graduate within four years and find our dream job right after. However, this ideal plan can be flimsy.
Financial hardships and shifts in the market can prolong the job search. We can easily be thrust into the doldrums of struggling to find ourselves and jobs tailored to our majors. Yet, moments like these are where we are forced to grow the most.
I had always been the shy and quiet girl in public school. Direct eye contact or holding a decent conversation were utterly impossible for me. However, my bakery/café job completely transformed me after my first day. There, I had to talk louder than I ever had in my life and work relentlessly to memorize as well as learn how to properly make all the drinks at once. I was completely taken out of my comfort zone and am eternally grateful for it.
I have now been a barista at my job for three years and since then, I have grown immensely in various ways. While I have not graduated yet, I can attest to the fact that being a barista temporarily does not always mean you are stuck or unfit for the job market. Being a barista (and cashier) can teach you invaluable people, organization and multitasking skills for the sake of perfecting a wonderful, creative craft and more.
On most high-volume coffee shop days, drink orders can multiply quickly. Time management and handling stress are both important skills you learn. This includes stocking before rush hour, making the drinks chronologically by when they were ordered and paying attention to guest modifications. In the process, you have to be organized mentally and when putting ingredients away as well.
Being a barista also requires you to be detail-oriented. Each drink, whether its a latte, cappuccino or smoothie, requires you to follow specific instructions, but also allows you to put in a little bit of creativity and TLC. This goes especially for milk steaming, where you are always trying to achieve the perfect microfoam or froth, along with the syrup and whipped cream to complete a nice presentation.
However, the most important skill I learned was customer service and people skills. Being a barista is very hands-on, promotes networking and can become personal at times, especially when you see your favorite regular order her usual iced caramel latte. Thus, do not get discouraged because being a “college-educated barista” for a while can be enjoyable, be an easy transition to the chaos of adulthood and teach you viable skills for a future job. It is just another necessary step to climb in achieving our greatest potential.