Starting a new job is never easy, no matter your level of prior experience. Here’s some advice to make the transition just a little bit easier.
No two restaurants are the same, meaning the first few weeks of a new job can be hard for even the most seasoned among us. Some restaurants lay their silver out fork-knife-spoon on the table, but store them in their trays as spoon-knife-fork (which is pure madness, but I’ve seen it.) Some kitchens label their prep with just the date and item, others include the station, too.
Add to that the natural tendency for groups to become tribes, and the result is no one makes it easy to be the Newbie.
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of being a Newbie:
Do: Show up a few minutes early. You’ll need the extra time to figure out things like clocking in or where to stash your street clothes. Besides, it shows initiative and organizational thinking.
Don’t: Show up 10 minutes late. No one cares if you missed the bus, lost your shoes or had to save drowning orphan kittens from a burning building. Your arrival time is your first impression – make it count.
Do: Ask questions. Many people try to fake their way through a new experience – and it shows. Instead, if there’s something you don’t know or understand, ask concise and thoughtful questions.
Don’t: Act like you already know everything. Don’t correct the bartender’s recipes or try to explain how to properly season salmon to the cooks. It doesn’t make you look like an expert – it does the exact opposite.
Do: Jump in and start working. Look for simple tasks that are immediately helpful. Bus and wipe tables, pour waters, find tasks that enable you to learn about your new job as quickly as possible. If you’re a cook, find a prep task like cutting onions for mirepoix or helping the dishwashers put back the pots and pans.
Don’t: Jump in on a job you’re not ready to do. If no one has invited you to speak to the customers, wait until someone does. Do not try to organize anything, as you might just be rearranging someone else’s mise.
Do: Dress the part. If you’re FOH you should be wearing comfortable, but dressy shoes – like leather clogs. If you’re a cook, you might want to bring a chef’s coat just in case they haven’t added you to the linen order yet. When in doubt, just wear a simple t-shirt.
Don’t: Wear perfume, cologne or whatever Axe Body Spray might be. Just don’t. Wearing scent in a restaurant is never a good idea and will immediately mark you as not just a newbie to the job, but a newbie to the industry at large.