Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why I left the corporate world to serve tables

With a college degree and 15 years of experience in the corporate world, I made a huge change. After running sales departments, selling everything from houses to books, and sitting behind a desk for years it was time for some new scenery. I needed something drastic despite the societal norms of working your way up the corporate ladder to achieve some sort of accomplishment which many label as success. So what's the motivation to "take a step back" in many people's eyes?
Ultimately, my security is not found in a title. It's not how many people I manage or what level I am in a company corporate ladder. I wanted an opportunity to interact with people, earn every dollar I make and not have my work run my life.

Face-to-face with my customers

Sure, my clients/customers are a bit different in the hospitality industry, but after years of working in a corporate environment (mostly sales) I have a sense of customer service that gives me an advantage over most. I can interact in a different way, with professionalism and foresight of opportunities, problems and how to provide guest satisfaction. I am ultimately responsible for their experience and get to actually interact with those I'm serving. I realized that this was a crucial part of what makes me happy in a job.

Goodbye desk and the paperwork I dreaded

Regardless of the role, I was always frustrated when I got trapped behind a desk staring at a computer screen. I gained weight and got depressed and overwhelmed as I shuffled papers that didn't matter, and monotonously accomplished the daily tasks that had to be done. Now, I'm active and on my feet, using the few muscles I have and free from the barriers of paperwork and processes that actually kept me from interacting with customers.

I'm going home now....and not working

Probably one of the best feelings ever is clocking out and being done with my day. I don't walk away with problems, reports, and projects that need to be done. I don't always feel like I need to be checking email or working when I'm "off" work. I walk away and it's over - perhaps on of the most freeing feelings of working in a restaurant as a server.

So long 9 to 5

I'm a night owl - I have energy, creativity, and motivation from about 3pm - 3am. But the corporate world doesn't love that schedule like I do. Instead, they often regulate when you need to be at your desk and it often starts early in the morning (at least for me). I've finally found a niche where I can work the hours I'm most productive.

Ready to go - anywhere

I'm currently waiting tables at a Marriott hotel restaurant. This means that after 90 days, I can transfer anywhere in the world. There are a vast amount of job opportunities and variety within the hospitality industry, and specifically within the Marriott's across the world. I'm providing myself the chance to relocate and experience a different city, different life and an adventure I don't even know.

Time to eat some humble pie

There have definitely been challenges and obstacles to overcome, perhaps the most significant is others' views of the change I've made. It's been a humbling experience as people make comments like, "Wow, that's quite a step down from a real career to waiting tables" or "How's the job search going?" It's been a refreshing chance to not care about what others think and not try and fit into the box of what a career looks like for a college-educated male. Truly, it comes down to this:
If you need to redirect your path and find something that you enjoy doing, the opinions of others will only get in your way until you're ready to be honest with yourself. 
Plus, I usually shut most people up when I tell them I don't have to take my work home with me as they frantically check their email on their phone, worrying if they've missed an important communication or a deadline that has slipped through the cracks.

Sometimes our career path chooses us...and then you're stuck....or are you?

Whether it's your college degree, your first job out of college, a connection that landed you a job, or "what you've always done" sometimes our career chooses us. But don't lock yourself into somewhere or something you're unhappy with. Life changes and your interests change - take a step to dare and do something different. Yes, it's a risk and you may not know what's next, but what's the loss? The money? The status? The security? We too often focus on the negative risks instead of the benefits, many of which you won't know until you pull the trigger and do something daring.

Ultimately, I wanted a change in career which means you start over - you start at the bottom and work your way up, concentrating on everything you've learned from past experiences to make yourself the best. From day one at my initial interview, I expressed my desire to work my way up in the hotel, whether that means management or simply new roles and opportunities. Now, I've got to put in my time and enjoy the ride.
So what's your story? Do you need to restart and blaze a new path? Don't be a drone to what you think is expected and following the norm. Find something new, take a risk and be the person others talk about.
I'm not giving in or giving up: I'm giving myself the opportunity to discover, explore and restart with a fresh new energy that motivates and inspires me. Do the same for yourself.