Being A College Bartender, Is It For You?

Lilly Parizek

Over the summer, I got a second job bartending. I shortly learned that this part-time job would be much more than just a paycheck. I went into it thinking I would just do it for the summer but now, I’m sticking with it throughout the school year. I’m going to share with you my top three reasons why you should bartend in college.  

But first, what are some qualities a bartender should have? 

  • Have fun – That’s what this is all about!   
  • Be ready to learn – It’s a lot to take in, be honest about being new. You’ll get it soon! 
  • Be personable – People love to talk, and they also want to hear what you have to say. 
  • Hold your ground – Be ready to say no, deal with angry drunks, and even call the cops. 

Reason #1 – The People You Meet 

The people you meet bartending can be extremely rewarding. The customers are actually my favorite part of being a bartender! But how can they really be the best part of being a bartender? It’s easy, just think of all the people you meet just in one night. All of the connections you make after graduation are huge. I had a lot of guests from the hotel across the street come in that, and to my benefit, worked in fields I am interested in. I learned a lot from these customers about what their career paths looked like, interview/meeting tips, and what they wish they would have known at my age, as they entered the career field. And if that didn’t convince you enough, I’ve been recruited by a couple of customers for after I graduate. Who wouldn’t want to have a job lined up before you even start your senior year!? 

Reason #2 – The Environment 

Simply put, it’s just fun. The environment of a bar is already fun, and when you are behind the bar it’s still the same fun environment as if you were the customer! Instead of going out and spending money on drinks, you get to make money and still have just as much fun as if you were the one drinking. If the bar is loud from the music, who says you can’t dance? The customers love seeing you have fun with them too! Maybe it’s the opposite, just you and one of the regulars. Talk to them! I’m sure they have a fun story to tell you. The point is, make it fun. 

Reason #3 –Tips…duh 

Okay, I’d be lying if I didn’t include the tips. Sure, they are nice, but that’s not what it’s all about. I included this in here to show the value of being personable with the customers. I had a lady asking me about myself one night and she said that I reminded her of herself at my age.  We connected over that and when I brought her another drink, she handed me $100.00 and said, “I want to buy you a textbook this year.” By the time she left, I had been given over $300.00+ from just her group. She is someone I will never forget, and her words of hope and believing in me are worth so much more than any cash tip ever could ever be. 

Being a bartender can have its challenges too. You will experience your fair share of it being packed and running around making drinks non-stop on the weekends. Nights of sporting events can get quite busy too. Along with that, not everyone will be an easy customer. There will anyways be someone you can’t please. And as I mentioned before, you may even have to call the cops if the circumstances call for it. So being put in an uncomfortable situation is something you should be prepared for. 

Bartending has been so much more than just an extra paycheck to me. I went in with the mindset of “just get it done, it’s only three months,” but now I’m finding a way to fit in more shifts around school. Yes, of course, I go to get a paycheck, but I wouldn’t choose to work until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night when I have class the next morning at 8 a.m. if I didn’t like it. I choose to bartend because I truly enjoy doing it.