Céline Zahno looks into student jobs in the hospitality industry this week. Those on closing duty may be allowed free drinks, but that is also only to compensate for the overly long nine-hour workday.
The myth of the lazy student is well-known. Twenty-something years old, mostly sleeping, clubbing, or eating; rarely studying. The question at family dinner tables: but what do you really do all day long? Admittedly, not an easy question to answer. The truth might be an unsatisfactory answer. Some lectures here and there, maybe a visit to the library from time to time and yes, some naps are also included in a regular day.
“Hold up!”, you might want to shout now, and I know why. You are most likely a student of the second kind. The broke student. You arrived once in the Netherlands, slightly shocked by the price of cappuccinos, moderately surprised by the sum you spend on groceries each week and too stunned to speak when you found out about public transport fares. Biking in the rain and an ascetic lifestyle is not a considered option for all, so a solution is needed. No need to ponder for long though; a quick walk through the center of Amsterdam suffices and you know: Heureka, Horeca!
An abundance of small and big signs at every corner, screaming at you in all shapes and colors. Come work for us, please! No Dutch required, nor any service experience. And you went to the job ad that asked most friendly, relieved for the prospect of an unfearful insertion of your credit card into the ATM. This was before you found out that your monthly salary barely covers two thirds of your rent, but only when working at the limit of exhaustion. Do not worry though, you can save money on other ends. The cheapest meal on the menu you get for free and going out will be so much less appealing with the long work nights, constant tiredness and with hurting feet.
The “horeca-student” is harshly tried at family dinners too, given that it is unclear how serving tostis and mixing cocktails aid your career path. You will craft something along the lines of “high intensity and low reward makes for a strong character”, which might possibly convince a future employer but most probably not your grandmother who listens to you complaining about customers on the three evenings per week you have off from work.
Speaking of the elderly, they are the customers you fear most. Pronouncing wrong the “alsjeblieft” will reveal you as a ready target for a fiendish comment about the fact that you are currently in the Netherlands and that this is no English-speaking country. You have learnt some methods of appeasement though, and sometimes you add a free drink to the menu. Deduced from your salary of course, after your boss got ear of your strategy.
Your Heureka! moment faded quite quickly but the horeca lasted. You keep hold of the small pleasures that still occasionally permeate your life. You made some friendly alliances with your co-workers against your mean manager. During the closing shifts, the alcohol is free (which you think is to silence opposition against the nine-hour shifts, but you will definitely not speak up). You tell yourself that free time is just a synonym for boredom anyways, and keep running around, back and forth from lecture halls to dinner tables.
Céline Zahno is a student Political Science at the UvA and comes from Switzerland.