Consider a Customer Service Job This Summer

by The Cowl Editor on March 7, 2019


Student working at McPhail's handing someone popcorn.
Working in McPhail’s, like Abbie Cavalier ’22, is one example of a customer service job on campus. Photo courtesy of Laura Chadbourne ’20.

It is that time of year again when students on campus are scrambling to secure an intern position for the summer. Although internships can provide students with invaluable work experience, some students—especially underclassmen—should consider finding a customer service job for the summer break, instead.

Whether it be in the food service or retail industry, customer service jobs are a rite of passage that all college students should experience before entering into the professional world.

Customer service jobs can provide countless transferable skills. For starters, these jobs typically require you to work in a team environment. Consequently, your ability to cooperate with and solve problems alongside different types of people can often be greatly enhanced.

Future employers typically look for their candidates to have experience with teamwork, and after working a customer service job you will be able to provide numerous examples of times when you were an effective group member.

Additionally, customer service jobs can help you develop your verbal communication skills. These jobs require you to have conversations with both customers and coworkers every single shift, so you will become more confident when speaking to new people. Customer service jobs teach you the basics of human interaction, and this will come in handy not only in your future jobs, but in your life in general.

Customer service jobs can also teach you how to deal with difficult people. It is inevitable that you will have to appease dissatisfied customers when working a customer service job. Although dealing with unhappy customers can be an unpleasant task, doing so will strengthen your conflict resolution skills.

You may learn how to better empathize with people, how to be accountable for your mistakes, and how to maintain your composure in stressful situations. These jobs require you to have the mindset that “the customer is always right,” and having this attitude ingrained in your mind will make you a more mature and well-disposed individual.

Not only can these jobs teach you how to deal with difficult customers, but they can also prevent you from becoming a difficult customer yourself. We interact with customer service workers daily when checking out at CVS or ordering at Dunkin’. By seeing what it is like to be on the other side of these exchanges, you will better understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes. As a result, you will likely be a more respectful and patient customer. 

It is important for everyone to gain an appreciation for customer service workers, and the best way to do that is to put ourselves in their shoes at some point in our lives. As Providence College students, our college degrees will provide opportunities that many people in the U.S. do not have access to. Many customer service workers receive wages that are not sufficient, forcing them to work several jobs in order to get by. Understanding this is crucial, as it reveals how fortunate you are to receive a college education and will hopefully inspire you to be a better customer when interacting with customer service workers. 

Although customer service jobs may not always be the highest paying or most desirable option, it is important that all college students work one at least once in their lives to develop foundational skills and gain a new perspective.