Stick your hand up, and show that you want it!

I just realized that almost a month has passed since my last written update to my blog. I guess it’s probably a good indication of my level of busyness. Things have quickly transitioned over from being “just a visitor” to being “another guy in the city” (although my introduction line of “I’m on a working holiday visa from Canada” never seem to end as long as I have an accent). I’m quite enjoying the change of pace here with my schedule being what seems like ten times less busy than back home, which allows me to be more spontaneous and flexible with any upcoming plans.

Finally had the chance to explore the outskirts of the city, taking a day trip to the Blue Mountains, approximately 2 hours away by public transportation. Even though it probably would’ve been much easier joining one of the many local tours, I wanted to put my explorer hat back on and stop at most of the hiking trails around the area without any time constraints. Lucky for me, I picked a day where the sky was absolutely cloudless, but forgot to peek at the temperature forecast – a sweltering 36 degrees. Take a look at some of the gorgeous views!

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A couple of my friends have also visited me in Sydney over the past few weeks – I’ve had much fun in showing them around the city. I’d easily take a couple hours of face to face catching up over social media any day.

Keeping in line with my new year’s resolution, I’ve also met some lovely new people at a BBQ put on by local friends, playing volleyball and dodgeball, and dining and socializing with new co-workers. Wait, co-workers? I must’ve forgot to mention that I’m also now employed! :-)

It was a specialty coffee shop that I came across back in January while searching for good coffee in the city. They roasted their own coffee beans. The cafe reminds me of 49th Parallel and the like back home. A few weeks later on the second day of handing out resumes, little did I know they had 2 other locations in the city – one of which I had a pretty decent chat with the manager about my ambitions. Two weeks later I was called back for a trial. And another one… and yet two more. Despite having zero experience in hospitality and face to face customer service, I gave it my all in those four days, and was subsequently given a temporary part time position at the cafe as an all-rounder!

Yes, it falls a bit short of being the barista and making coffee, but it’s totally understandable. It’s not like if you wanted to be an astronaut, and got hired by NASA, you would be conducting space walks the next day. Not saying that being a barista is rocket science (see what I did there? haha), but it does require a bit of experience. My duties includes most things you can think of being at a cafe: dishes, carrying coffee, sweeping, changing the bins, replenishing milk, clearing tables, etc. By the third day, I was even working as the cashier taking orders. Whew! Few things I’ve noticed / learned here so far:

  1. Everyone works as a team. Being a team of only six means that you really need to be able to do almost everything. There are no “secondary tasks” or “non-glamourous” jobs that others leave behind. When a bin is full, you change it. When there are dirty dishes, you load them in the dishwasher. When there’s a coffee ready, you drop all tasks and bring the coffee out. It’s not a place to “outshine” others. Bottom line: do it as fast as you can.
  2. Back in an office role, I’m used to sitting for the entire day. Now, I’m basically standing for the same length of time. In an office job, you are mentally exhausted by the end of the day. In hospitality, you are physically exhausted by the end of the day. Most days I crash into bed much earlier than I’m used to before. Bringing me into my next point.
  3. Being the source of caffeination for everyone else, a cafe shop opens much earlier than other businesses. If my shift starts at 7am, I would need to wake up at 5:30am to get prepped, and make the 40min commute into the city… what a joy.
  4. Memory, memory, memory. Those people that know me well should know that I have terrible memory, short term being worse than long term. In this industry it’s all about being personal, so the sooner you can put a name to a customer’s face, the more likely they will feel important and return. The next step after that (which I don’t think I’ll master for some time), is to know their favourite drink as soon as they step up. It’s also advantageous to memorize everything by heart to save time, from the internal coffee codes, to the prices of everything. The only way to get better at both of the above is just more time.
  5. Put on a smile. Even if you make a mistake, make a joke out of it. Most people will likely go along with it and be patient and nice. I’m pretty thankful I’ve only come across one or two grouchy customers for now.
  6. Best of all, staying caffeinated is part of the job (literally), although you would want to limit yourself each day… I’m starting to get to know the different types of coffee, and how to differentiate between good, mediocre, and bad coffee.

I wanted to get my foot in the door of the hospitality industry, or being a barista as a stretch, and I’d count this as a pretty darn close. Having said that, it’s been a very interesting two weeks so far, and I look forward to what’s ahead!

Give 100% effort into everything you’re hoping to achieve, it will only lead you to better things. Even if it doesn’t, you know you’ve given it your all.

7 Comments

  1. Marty

    Good blog. I can hear YOU in it. Any forward facing “job” is made best by finding that part of you that connects with the people you’re dealing with, and just honestly sharing that. Even if they don’t consciously know it, people respond well to honesty and know when your actions are genuine.

    • Sam

      I’m sure you know a lot about that Marty! Your line of work involves dealing with people face to face on a daily basis! I totally agree too.

  2. kwyc

    36 degree yet so green! congrats on ur first coffee shop job too =]

    • kwyc

      came across any platypus? =P

      • Sam

        Platypus?! Why in Australia??

  3. Am i able to follow u on wordpress sam?

    • Sam

      I don’t think so maybo, because I’m not officially part of the WordPress blogs, it’s hosted on my own site. You should see it when I cross-post it to my Facebook though!

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