Phil Roberts, from burger bar waiter to graduate role
Leaning over the counter at a local, chic coffee shop in Birmingham City Centre is Phil Roberts.
Adorned in a fitted navy suit he orders a flat white and sits down to chat to me on his lunch break. He now has a graduate role and is making headway in the company, but last year he was in Australia, working in non-graduate bar work. We chatted to him on his time Down Under and how it helped him get to where he is today.
Where did you work in Australia?
Perth and Melbourne
How easy was it finding work?
Pretty easy, I just did hospitality, found jobs within a couple of weeks in both cities. The big cities are used to having lots of English backpackers so lots of bars and restaurants are happy to employ you even if it's only for a few months.
Melbourne is considered to have the best quality of life in the world
Had you done restaurant or bar work before? Did the working day differ at all from back in the UK?
Yes, I'd done a lot of hospitality before, I'd say the working day was pretty much the same.
Did you manage to balance your work and leisure time well?
In Melbourne, I would say I managed it well because I worked in a really good area and so I could meet friends and socialise easily before and after work. However in Perth I feel I worked a little too much, mostly because I'd just arrived in the country and didn't have loads of expendable money. Sadly this did mean I didn't socialise or go to the beach as much as I'd have liked. If I did it again I would work less and enjoy the city/country a bit more.
What were your daily duties?
General hospitality stuff. I worked in a restaurant in Perth which required good waiting skills and lots of cutlery polishing and cleaning. Whereas in Melbourne I worked in a burger shop which was way more chilled out and I just made burgers and listened to music all day.
What was your favourite thing about working in this particular industry?
I've always loved hospitality. If you're with the right people it can just be like you're getting paid to hang out with your friends. I like that you're on your feet all day and not stuck behind a desk. I also really like the hours especially in a restaurant; in Melbourne I never started before 11:30 am and was always done by midnight- the perfect time to go and meet friends for a drink.
Phil often spent hours making burgers at his job
What was your least favourite thing?
Cleaning! It's always the worst part of the job. When it's late at night when you're tired and you have to clean and polish cutlery, it's annoying.
What do you do now?
I currently work in a lucrative sales firm, sometimes handling million-pound deals.
What skills did you acquire from the job that you feel are an advantage?
I think working in hospitality teaching you a lot of valuable lessons about working life but also people skills for life in general.
Hospitality teaches you a good work ethic as it is usually fairly hard physically and can sometimes be quite draining, especially if you're working a double shift (12 hours or so).
I also believe it makes you a better person, especially when it comes to going to a bar/restaurant yourself. It makes you appreciate the hard work waiters/bartenders do behind the scenes. Also, you gain general people skills from working with lots of different people from different backgrounds (non-grads for example) and dealing with customers, particularly difficult ones.
Would you recommend other grads to do a non-grad role for a while?
I would 100% recommend it. I've done lots of non-grad jobs and I think it makes you a much more rounded person and generally better prepared for any job.