Internship Reflections and Service Industry Connections

Sophia Shoemaker

Sophia Shoemaker, Team Alpha Marketing Intern

May 14, 2024

Earlier this month, I reached my two-year anniversary in fine dining. I have learned so much during the past couple of years, although I never would have guessed that the lessons learned in the industry would so easily intertwine with those that I have learned in my time as a Marketing Intern with Team Alpha.

Much like my first day at the restaurant, I had no idea what to do or what to expect when I entered the space at Awesome Inc. I am a recent graduate from the University of Kentucky Journalism and Media school who had no experience or intentions of working in the world of marketing. There are many parallels between my internship and restaurant experience. The first one being how I ended up in both jobs. I needed an internship to graduate and found Awesome Inc on the list provided by my college; simply applying felt like a shot in the dark. To my surprise, after going through the application and interview process, I became a Marketing Intern on Team Alpha.

Similarly, about two years ago, I was searching for a new job. I had no restaurant experience but wanted to be a server. Not as a long term career, but a short term income source. I applied almost everywhere in downtown Lexington. After many rejections due to lack of experience, I cut my losses and applied to be a host at a popular fine dining spot. I have since worked my way up the ladder and am serving there now. It’s crazy to think that both of my hail mary’s landed me jobs and are shaping my career path. When working in the restaurant industry, you learn not only to cater to the customer’s wants, but anticipate their needs as well. The responsibility to your customer is extremely similar to that in marketing, much like the importance of building a trustworthy connection with those that you are serving. When you click certain links online or subscribe to a mailing list, you are creating an opportunity for marketing professionals to target your needs. The same is true for when you make a dinner reservation. If you let us know that you’re celebrating a birthday, for example, it is acknowledged, celebrated, and then saved in your guest profile. Anticipating the needs of our customers, either as a marketing professional or as a server at a restaurant, creates a uniquely crafted experience.

In my time at Awesome Inc, I learned about their four Core Values. Be Good, Be Excellent, Be a Friend, and Be You. Little did I realize that these Core Values would ring true to my life outside of Team Alpha. Working in a high-pressure and busy environment like a popular restaurant, you often have to be a team player. As someone who has trained for multiple front-of-house positions, on busy nights I go wherever is needed to help the restaurant. This reminds me of the Awesome Inc Core Value of “Be a Friend”. It is important to be there for your team, no matter the circumstances. When working in fine dining, not only does your leadership team want you to put your best foot forward to deliver exceptional service, you should expect it of yourself. The Core Value “Be Excellent” demands this same standard. “Be Good” means to do the right thing and stand strong in your personal values. When working in a fast paced, fast money environment, people sometimes get distracted and let money or opportunity talk. There is no one who can deliver the same experience as me, or any other server. “Be You” brings the unique and tailored product to the customer. Staying true to a brand while putting my own twist on the product is a lesson I have learned in both service and marketing.

As any recent college grad will tell you, it is an overwhelming time in my life to say the least. I’ve graduated… Now what? Regardless of the path I choose, I am confident that the lessons I have learned in both the restaurant and marketing industries have prepared me for whatever may come next.