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Confessions of a Starbucks Barista?

by J. Money on Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Starbucks - Thank You!I had an interesting encounter with a Starbucks barista this morning. I’m riding the metro doing my aloof thing when all of a sudden I hear this “Hey! Grande hazelnut coffee, right?”. At first I was like “Awesome, someone else is a fan!” and went back to la-la land (aka playing Yahtzee on the iPhone. haha…) Then I realized the chick was staring directly at me!

It turns out she used to be one the baristas that hooked me up back near our old office. And since she’s always been pretty friendly, I figured I’d tell her about my dreams of working there one day :) For all who don’t know, I have this list of 5 places I’d like to work at someday, although I’m not sure I blogged about that before?

Anyways, I started picking her brain about what it’s like to work there in hopes of getting the “inside scoop.” I can’t remember the entire convo (even after just 15 mins! aye..), but here’s more or less what she told me below. And probably tweaked more to the pros considering she REALLY loves her job:

Working at Starbucks: The Pros

  • You meet a lot of cool people! You’re surrounded by energetic and entertaining co-workers, as well as mostly fun customers. People love their coffee and are generally in a good mood when they get to you – especially in the mornings before any craziness occurs that day.
  • Starbucks has great health benefits. I didn’t have enough time to ask specifics, but she said it was really good and she has no complaints.
  • You can relocate without a problem! Want to move to California? Easy peasy! How about Texas? Fine by them! You’ve got Starbucks scattered across the entire world that are always looking to fill a position or two. In fact, this particular barista told me she’s now at her 3rd state in 4 years @ Starbucks so far :) Although she did say that moving overseas isn’t *as* easy as xfering in the States, but she’s heard it’s doable as they’d rather higher someone who already knows the ins and the outs over a noob. Either way, this is a job perk I could get used to.
  • Job security is pretty good. Unless you do something stupid, you can spend quite a few years with Starbucks. Since there ARE so many shops around the world, you really don’teven have to worry about your particular shop being closed down – you just move right down to the next one or two. And in DC, it’s like literally moving a block ;) A friend of mine has FOUR fo them within a 5 block radius. It’s crazy. (crazy good!)
  • There are stock benefits. Unfortunately my new friend doesn’t participate in this program (and believe me I REALLY wanted to shake her good), but she did say most of her co-workers do. One of them recently cashed out all his stocks and used the money for a down payment on a house! I again didn’t have too much time to pick her brain on it, but it definitely piqued my interest. I also wonder how long her friend worked at Starbucks, and how much, exactly, he invested in this plan.
  • There is/was a great 401k plan. We didn’t actually talk about this today, but I’ve heard that Starbucks has a great one – or at least used to before this economy went to crap. If any of you know what it’s like, or works there, drop a note and let us know!
  • Time goes by really fast – at least during rush hours. When you’re helping one customer after another, time flies like a mother.

Working at Starbucks: The Cons

  • A small % of the customers are dicks. They see you as low lifes working a job that pays pennies, and they treat you like you’re their bitch. Most of the customers are pretty cool, but these are the people that ruin your day and make you wish you weren’t doing what you do. Sometimes, however, it’s satisfying to watch them get thrown out if they start getting abusive (all according to this chick, anyways). It’s alot like retail in that regard, except at Starbucks they bitch about something that costs $4 instead of $40.
  • You have to clean a lot. She doesn’t hate this all the way as it keeps her busy and has to get done anyways, but it’s not the funnest thing to do in the world. Apparently this is what goes on between the morning and afternoon rushes.

That’s about all of it. I wish I had more time to pick her brain, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what’s it’s like when I actually work there one day ;) Pretty interesting how much you can learn from a quick 7 minute metro ride though! Especially when it catches you off guard like that. Who knew I’d be pondering the ins and the outs of Starbucks all morning?


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