Your Past Restaurant Job May Be Worth More Than Education

Published on: November 4, 2012

For Startups Your Past Restaurant Job May Be Worth More Than EducationEver since I was a talent agent in the entertainment industry, I have been developing and continuously improving my patterns for detecting gifted people who are more talented than they know. One of my mentors used to say: “catch them before they have a chance to destroy themselves with swollen egos and visions of grander”. After all of these years observing what kind of people do well and what kind end up bitter with their tails between their legs, I can bravely say that I got the pattern down pat. Yes, when I am seeking great people to join my teams, I use methods and patterns to be efficient.

So what are the methods to my madness?

1. I want to know if you have ever worked in retail or as a waiter, waitress, busboy, or delivery driver. Why? Those who have tasted what it is like to be disrespected, stiffed on tips, underpaid, and otherwise poorly treated, tend to exude higher levels of humility, patience, frugalness, and “hustle”. These personality traits make them good team mates, managers, and executives. It does not matter if we are talking about an entry-level marketing person, software developer, or Chief Revenue Officer – the mentioned traits help them unite the team and get past some incredible obstacles.

2. I don’t care what school you went to! I mostly ignore that part of your resume.

Why is education not getting any love? Don’t get me wrong, there are still some schools like Northeastern, Babson, Grinnell, WPI, RISD, DePaul, and Wellesley, to name a few, that have educated folks who have stunned me with their abilities. But I need “stuff” done and “book knowledge” often leads to needless over-thinking, lack of action, and unearned “expertise”. Most of what is taught today in non-science degrees is outdated by the time you are out in the “real world”. And since you were likely already smart before you entered college, you probably learned more applicable skills as a waitress to be say an account manager, than any business or marketing degree you may have gotten. College may help you mature and develop social skills, but it will no longer land you a good job. So, roll up your sleeves and do something.

One caveat is that I do not ignore education with science majors.

There are also certain combinations that work well, for example, psychology for UX and recruiting or arts and journalism for inside sales. There are some others, but you can’t expect me to spill all my “magic”…

So, if you are reading this and are interested in working for one of my teams, please do not hide your service industry job – it may just help you land a position with my team.

Photo credit: Kirk Siang