A Starbuck's Queen Teaches Kids How to Hook Jobs

MY TURN - How not to get a job at Starbucks or probably anywhere:

One young man turned in an excellent application (Good.) Stopped in to visit the manager (Very good.) But came in to see the manager pouring in sweat and wearing gym gear (Bad.) 

Very bad. That was one story Becky Hardin, a Starbuck's manager who represents the  25th Street and Western Avenue store, shared with juniors and seniors at San Pedro High last month to teach them job and interviewing skills -- and how to land work at the wildly successful coffee houses while going to college. That sweating young man did not land an interview, she said. 

For one hour, Becky had nearly two dozen students mesmerized. No one whispered or talked out of turn. No one interrupted. The youths peered forward at the animated woman who was training them how to snatch a Starbuck's job while going to college -- or elsewhere. As students complained they could not get work because they lacked experience or had been turned down numerous times, Becky suggested looking at finding jobs in a different light. 

"You should feel empowered to shop for your own job too," Becky explained and make sure you are a match. "Know you are valuable and you have a lot to offer. As you are being interviewed, you should be interviewing them too." 

But that's not all the San Pedro Starbuck's manager told them. She offered up many concepts about interviewing techniques and added that they needed to include their community experiences in their resumes and applications "because that paints a picture of you. That is the stuff we want to see. Are you in clubs? Do you volunteer? Do you babysit? Those are life skills that will help you. 

Don't sell yourself short." 

Upfront, Becky told students while she "loved" her job and that the company has excellent benefits for its "partners," she added Starbucks comes with intensely hard work complete with many demanding challenges. That includes the memorization of 87,000 drink combinations, the ability to remain friendly in the often frantic paced stores and "to sell, sell, sell." 

"We like to hire hungry, dedicated partners," she said, employees who will "take one for the team," when a bathroom has been "exploded on" and it becomes a cleanup project for several partners, including managers. 

The manager encouraged students to study the way a company works and learn how employees dress. That, she said, is the biggest indicator how one should dress for a job interview. At Starbucks, "dress the part." Come wearing khaki pants and a nice shirt. Bring a resume. Ask to see the manager and if it's a bad time, ask when "is a good time is to come back." 

Besides that, think what work matches your personality. 

"If you hate dressing up and wearing ties, then don't work in a bank," she said. 

For women, she warned, who have long, manicured nails, that's not possible to have at a Starbuck's job due to health code regulations. 

The tips seemed to resonate with the youth and the school's college counselor. 

"The workshop was fabulous," said Valerie Armstrong, the counselor. "Becky is such an engaging speaker, and the students learned how to present themselves in a positive way when applying for jobs. This is the type of real-world advice they need and they heard it from a very credible source." 

Other suggestions the manager made was: 

●  "Weed out" any sense of desperation and never take a job because of it. That only leaves both the employee and the manager unhappy.


● "Scope" out Starbucks or anywhere else you might be interested in working and see how the store operates. Each store has its own culture. At Becky's 25th Street and Western Avenue store, the culture is "loud." Her partners sing, laugh and tell jokes. But other stores can be more subdued.  It is "crucial," to find a match.


● Look for jobs where the staff is treated well. "If you get a manager with any company who is just rude to you, do you really want to work for him?"


● Hundreds of email applications pour constantly in to Starbucks managers from people who are looking to become baristas, which is why it's so important to make a personal contact.


● Persistence, she added, "often opens the doors."


 Students who attended the after school meeting said they were pleased with the speaker saying her presentation and enthusiasm for her work taught them how to master the maze of interviewing skills going way beyond just Starbucks.


"This was universal and will help with any job out there," said soon-to-be-a junior, 15-year-old Ernesto Hernandez. "I learned so much from this. She was a great speaker and the story she tells makes it more awesome. She really pushed out there that you have to be willing to work hard and be trustworthy."


College Bound Christopher Tate, 17, a junior, said after the workshop: "This was really worth it. It helped me a lot. I work really hard and I'm pretty good at learning. I also learned you have to be prepared because you might get an interview on the spot.


"I think it fits me."


In addition, students also said they were attracted by Starbuck's benefits. Some of those include:


● Hiring people, some without experience, where they will receive paid training at $8.35 an hour. The pays remains the same once starting, but will include weekly tips.


● Starbucks encourages and works with college students schedules and allows baristas to transfer to other locations if needed. In some cases, Starbucks will pay between $500 to $1,000 in college tuition fees and for some classes.


● Full health benefits (dental, medical and vision) with 24 hours or more.


● Partners  receive free drinks while at work and 30 percent off all store merchandise, including food and beverages.


● Stocks are provided to many eligible partners to ensure that "partners" have a stake Starbuck's financial success.


If one gains the opportunity  to become a Starbucks barista and go through the training, mistakes will be made, Becky added. The "training process is grinding," the manager said, and once completed, "we throw them to the wolves. It's baptism by fire." But she added, "you've been trained to deliver successful results."


Don't be afraid of making mistakes. "It happens."


When Becky first started working at a drive through, she had "12 cars stacked deep." On the counter, she had all the drinks ready to go but when she turned the drinks flew to the floor. It "wiped out every single drink."


"My manager said: "Clean it up."  You will do stupid things like that. It takes about six months for you to feel solid," the manager explained.


Student Rodvidna "Robbin" Colquitt said she's been trying to get a job at Starbucks but didn't know how.


"This helped me because I've been trying to work for Starbucks," said student Rodvidna "Robbin" Colquitt, 16. "I am so glad I came."


(Diana Chapman is a CityWatch contributor and has been a writer/journalist for nearly thirty years. She has written for magazines, newspapers and the best-seller series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can reach her at:   [email protected] or her website: theunderdogforkids.blogspot.com) –cw




Vol 11 Issue 47

Pub: June 11, 2013