You’ve been working hard for months, maybe even years. You’ve poured yourself into your studies, memorized the ins and outs of different cocktail recipes and spirits, and mastered the art of creating garnishes that are as tasty as they are visually appealing. And now you’re finally done! Congratulations on graduating from bar school!
You want to celebrate—and you should! But while you’re preparing to throw back a few too many shots in honor of making it through bar school, it’s essential to understand that your education is not quite over.
As you know, the world of mixology is a dynamic one, and there are always new trends brewing. Even after finishing your certification at bar school and getting your first job behind the counter, there’s still so much left to learn!
What can you expect? Here are seven things to keep in mind as you head out into the world as an officially certified bartender:
1. Your Networking Will Be The Key To Your Success
Networking is the key to success in any industry, especially bartending, where your reputation and relationships with customers can be critical for growing business.
While learning about bartending at a reputable school, such as NY Bartending School, you’ll meet many people already working in the industry. Students and instructors can offer you valuable advice on getting started, even if they don’t work in the bar where you want to work or live.
Your classmates will also be a great resource and network as they look for jobs. Remember to stay connected with them throughout your career so you can help each other out!
2. It Will Be Tough But Do Not Get Discouraged
You’re still learning, and even though you feel on top of it all at this point, you’ll still mess up. There will be nights where you make some rookie mistakes, but don’t sweat it. You’ll learn from your mistakes and get better with time. As frustrating as these mistakes can be at the moment, they’re just learning lessons that all bartenders have gone through at one point or another.
As time passes and you begin to develop more skills as a bartender, people will start looking to you for advice and guidance on their bartending journey. Over time, compliments about your work will start rolling in from customers who appreciate what you do for them when they visit the bar (especially if you can make a killer cocktail).
3. You’ll Need Mentors Who Are Expert Bartenders
Bartending is a craft that needs to be learned, from drink recipes to customer service skills and everything in between. There’s a long list of fundamentals that need to be mastered before calling yourself a master of the craft.
If you’re serious about becoming an elite bartender, then you need to be willing to pay your dues. You’ll put those skills into practice while working under experienced bartenders who can serve as mentors along the way.
A good bartending school will provide you with mentors. For instance, Brooklyn Bartending School connects teachers with students from the first day of school until the rest of their lives.
While having a mentor might not sound like fun now (and it might not always feel fun), it’s worth it. If being an elite bartender is something that genuinely excites you, following this path will lead to tremendous advancement opportunities!
4. No One Is Going To Hire You For Your Resume Skills
Beyond drink-making ability, it’s crucial to have an instinctual knowledge of how to serve customers best. It can only come from time spent working with people behind the bar. Your education will give you what you need to succeed, but the experience will make you great.
While the bar school curriculum does provide many opportunities for group work and role-playing, your learning development will be exponentially faster if you’re serving real customers in actual bars.
Some of the jobs you can do to gain experience include:
- Bartending for cash
- Working at an event
- Joining a bartending program
- Working in restaurants as a server
- Volunteering at local bars
- Bartending at a friend’s party
5. You Will Meet Some Fantastic People
When you’re bartending, you’ll meet so many new people every day – and depending on where you work, maybe even some famous ones! It can be enjoyable to chat with customers and hear their stories (sometimes crazy stories).
You’ll also get to know your coworkers. Whether they’re the other bartenders, the barback, or the managers, you’ll likely strike up a friendship in no time.
Plus, there’s always something happening! And the bar scene is constantly changing; there are always new trends in food-drink pairings coming out. You’ll have lots of opportunities to try new things. You’ll also learn about different alcoholic beverages and which ones go well together.
6. You Will Be Working On Your Feet The Whole Time
What does it mean to be a bartender? It’s physically demanding. You’ll be on your feet for long stretches at a time. And those stretches can be 12 hours or more! You have to be ready for that, ready for the mental challenge of being on the road all the time and interacting with people so much.
Bartenders are often social butterflies, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one from day one. You can learn how to do your job while talking and being friendly with customers!
But when it gets down to it, bartending is a great career choice because of the money you can make. If you’re good at bartending, you will be making over USD$100 per hour in tips alone! Not only that, but bartending is a very flexible career path; if you want to work part-time, full-time, or even do it as freelance work, there are jobs out there waiting for people like you who want different schedules and needs.
Bar school is hard work, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re planning to climb the ranks of the bartending world or learn enough about making drinks to enjoy your weekends with friends, you’ll have a blast. Just remember: be nice. Be patient. And be ready to learn something new about yourself every single day!