This summer I had the opportunity and pleasure to be one of the general managers of Stella Iowa City. This restaurant is located in Iowa City, Iowa. During my internship I was in charge of creating new menu items using ingredients from local farms; as well as new and innovative cocktails. Along with the culinary aspect of the restaurant I was in charge of many technological aspects of the restaurant as well. Posting on social media, as well as updating the current POS system and redoing the online website. Along with maintaining social media I also was in charge of end of the day bookwork. I also had the fortune of running the front of house which meant training new employees, hosting, bartending, serving, as well as making sure the whole operation ran as smoothly as possible. Throughout my internship I was also taught how to do liquor inventory and beer ordering and learning how to communicate with the different alcohol representatives that our company uses.
My greatest accomplishment during my internship was how I was able to learn the skills that it took to run a restaurant inside and out. I had worked in restaurants prior to this internship but never really had the opportunity to be on the managerial side of things. I was never old enough to be a manager while I worked for the restaurants but this internship gave me the opportunity to do so. I worked everyday to learn the in's and out's of the restaurant industry. When I came in for my first day I knew that I had something to prove, being only 19 and being the manager of one of the most popular restaurants in Iowa City I knew this was not going to be an easy task. I went above and beyond learning as much as I possibly could so by the time it was mid June I could be thrown any task in the restaurant whether it be bookwork, liquor order, working catering prep, talking with customers, bartending, payroll. Any and all aspects of the restaurant I was confident in knowing that I was going to be able to perform at the best of my abilities. I was able to prove to myself, and everyone who I worked with and interacted with, that I earned my position and knew exactly what I was doing.
The greatest lesson that I learned throughout my experience this summer is to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve. Treat everyone with kindness, and treat people the way that you want to be treated. Working in the restaurant industry you sometimes get people who are unhappy with their service, meal, or prior events that happened in their day. Sometimes they lash out on certain individuals, and a lot of the time that rage lands on the manager. Being able to have (or attempt) civilized conversations with people is necessary for anyone high up in any business but especially the restaurant industry. Being able to take criticism is also necessary because if you are unable to take the feedback, then you are never going to allow yourself or your business to grow. Besides being able to talk to customers, being able to communicate with your staff in a respectful way is extremely important. In my case I was one of the youngest employees but I was also in charge. Most of my coworkers were around my age and we were friends and maintaining the balance between friendship and leadership and making sure that you are still being listened to is also necessary. I was able to find a healthy balance between the two and my coworkers respected me and although saw me as their friend they also saw me as their boss and someone who works extremely hard. The greatest lessons that I learned came in the forms of communication skills.
What advice would you give?
Choose an internship that you feel passionate about. Internships are there to help you try out potential outcomes after you graduate. It is okay to take a risk and try out an internship that might be out of your comfort zone. They are learning experiences that everyone needs to have. When you find an internship that you enjoy don't just do the bare minimum. Go above and beyond so you can get the full experience of whatever/wherever you are working. You have the opportunity to do multiple internships so choose some that you might never think to do because those may be what you truly love doing.