The Sweet Feeling of Accomplishment: From Barista To Manager

Guest Post SERIES1

MarvinThe first post in this series is by my good friend Amanda Marvin. I first met Amanda in our first year Philosophy course. We got to know each other better over the course of that first year and have been great friends ever since. We both moved to Montreal the same month via two completely different paths. I really appreciated having her around when I was making the transition to the Big New City. Amanda blogs here and tweets as @amandamarvin. If you’re interested in submitting your own guest post about accomplishing difficult things or striking something off your bucket list, click here for details.

I never pictured myself managing a retail store in Belleville, Ontario, but I see now how hard work in former jobs built determination and a strive for excellence in the business world.

My work ethic was challenged when I moved to Montreal, Quebec for a couple of years and started working at a Second Cup. For one, I never thought I would be working at a coffee shop coming right out of University. I mean, I had a great education but it didn’t appear to get me far. However, maybe it did in hindsight in developing in me a work ethic that would take me to a career I never dreamed possible.

Being a Barista was anything but easy or glamorous despite the romanticized idea of it. I worked late nights, did all the dirty work and got yelled at by my managers a lot for not being able to speak French or for raising concerns they didn’t think were valid. I worked like this for a good 5 months. That’s five months of me coming home, crying and talking myself back into going to work. I dreaded it, but knew that my options were limited so I kept on going.

My managers started asked my colleagues how I worked in their absence and many of them responded that I was “hard working” and would often have to tell me I was ok to leave work and go home.

As turnover rates increased, I was entrusted with keys and opening the café. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but within a month or less I was opening the café on my own and running it until my manager came in at 7am. I felt such a sense of accomplishment being able to run a business on my own for a short period of time. It was actually somewhat rewarding coming in, putting on some nice background music, placing the pastries all nicely and making sure everything was stocked, neat and tidy for the morning rush.

I also worked hard on perfecting the little bit of French I knew and developing an accent (I would practice while opening the café in talking to myself or try and speak French as much as I could while in public). I wanted to be able to engage in a small conversation with customers while making their lattes. Though I had one case where I asked the customer what size drink they wanted (Quelle format?) and she snapped at me saying I used the improper word for size and I should have said “Quelle grandeur?” or “Quelle taille?” and started talking about Bill 101, thankfully my manager stepped in to defend me.

In spite of the language barrier, I continued working at Second Cup. Early mornings, jazz music, coffee stained hands and spilled milk were the little things marking my life at the time.

When I gave my resignation, the managers were saddened (which is not an emotion they showed often) and took me out for a nice meal in Old Montreal. I felt my hard work was appreciated for once. It made me feel really good.

Coming back home I thought was going to be hard. I had this idea that I was going to have to spend a year or more working at the bottom to get to the top again, but that wasn’t the case. With the work ethic I developed in Montreal (taking shifts when people called in sick, doing the dirty work) climbing the corporate ladder was easy. Within 2 months of being hired on I was promoted to a key holder and within another month Assistant Manager.

Since then I have switched companies and have enjoyed learning management skills along the way. From marketing strategies, to conducting interviews, to window displays, my hard work over these past 4 years has proven to me that I can do many things I never thought possible.

It gives me hope that if I can accomplish these two grand things, I can achieve anything I put hard work and determination to. Whether it be paying off my student loans, furthering my education, buying a home or saving for retirement, I know I can do these things if I work hard at developing a plan and stick to it.

 

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