Jobs Column: Wait a While

Services | Margaret Childs | October 2013

While physically challenging, waiting tables does have perks (Photo: M. Childs)

Everyone should wait tables at least once in their life.

You hear this on different continents, in different cultures and from everyone from a theatre director to a banker.

There must be some truth to it.

During college or between jobs along your career path, it’s a crash course for what they don’t teach you in school: poise, communication skills, work ethic, time management, even networking.

And of course the money is good, with servers making around €30 an hour with tips.

Ex-pat meets restaurant

If you’re new in town, a pub or restaurant can be just the ticket. If you speak German this should be no problem.

If not, Vienna has a number of English-speaking pubs (some with decent food) that hire Anglophones (Johnny’s, Charlie P’s, 1516, Flanagan’s, Molly Darcy’s, Down Under, and more.).

The jobs can be physically challenging since they require long shifts and lots of beer lugging, but the international clientele have been known to tip more generously than elsewhere.

German is a must if you’re looking for work in the bar or nightclub scene. Here you will have to talk to officials and deal with nighttime rowdies. This is not for the faint-of-heart, and will require stamina, good humor and a strong stomach.

If you’re fluent auf Deutsch, a cafe or restaurant is the less tiring option.

For non-natives this is a perfect foot-in-the-door for learning about Viennese culture and meeting people. If you’re looking at it as a networking ­opportunity, try to get a position in a place frequented by people in your industry or area of interest. As an artist, try the MQ, in a museum or near galleries. As an actor, ask at locales near theatres, like the Theatercafé, or Café Provinz near the Josefstadt.

It sounds obvious, but it makes a difference if you’re looking for contacts. With the help of The Vienna Review Grätzl articles (see p. 21) you can find which neighborhoods cater to which clientele.

One thing to remember is that doing arithmetic is key. Austrian wait staff are expected to split a full table’s bill on the spot, so being good with numbers is a big advantage. When it comes to tips, it’s a mixed bag.

Satisfied guests aim for 10%, but the average tip at a Viennese establishment is 8%. The job interview usually consists of a short conversation and a day or two of Probearbeiten (a tryout). Just showing up and asking for the manager is often the best way to apply.

Serious nightlife employment

If you are genuinely interested in the service industry, waiting tables or tending bar can be the perfect start to work your way up.

Many a restaurant manager or owner began at the beer tap or toting trays. There is no shame in learning by doing; in fact, in this industry the more echelons you’ve worked in the better. ¸

To find short term jobs, try:

...or simply show up

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