Many students hold jobs in the customer service industry while they are in high school and/or college. While working at a store or restaurant may not be everybody’s dream job, these types of customer-facing roles provide you with more skills and experience than you may realize. The most common type of abilities that you’ll gain in the service industry are transferable skills, which are skills that are relevant and useful across a variety of roles and industries. It’s important that you learn to identify your transferable skills, and know how to market them to employers when applying to jobs and internships.
Examples of transferable skills include things like communication, problem-solving, the ability to work on a team, time management, and so many other skills that you’ll gain throughout your experiences at BU. You may think that your job at Starbucks simply taught you how to make a latte, or that your job at Macy’s only trained you to fold shirts with perfect creases, but the fact is that your experiences in these types of roles are developing many transferable skills that you’ll use throughout your career.
Have you ever worked as a server at a restaurant and had to balance the needs of six different tables at once? That’s time-management. Have you ever fixed a malfunctioning cash register in the midst of serving a long line of customers? That’s problem-solving and critical thinking. And, of course, jobs in the customer service industry all revolve around working with people and making them happy. This experience develops your communication and interpersonal skills, which are highly sought after by employers in all industries.
Many people classify jobs in the service industry as “filler” jobs until you begin your career, but it’s important not to discount those roles and all of the skills that you gain from them. When writing a resume and cover letter, sit down and think about all of the responsibilities you had and how those responsibilities relate to transferable skills. By reflecting on your experiences, you’ll be able to market yourself to employers in the best possible light, and show that you’re an ideal candidate with a wide variety of skills to offer.