News: How One Laid-Off Server Switched Careers During COVID-19

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 21, 2021

Published January 19, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It has been almost a year since the emergence of COVID-19 and the effects it’s had on our daily lives. From mandatory lockdowns to social distancing recommendations, the job market is one of the many areas of life that has seen significant changes since the beginning of 2020. While some of the workforce was able to shift their daily jobs into a remote landscape, other workers were faced with furloughs and layoffs, with the national unemployment rate jumping more than 10% between March and April— from 4.4% to 14.7%.

Frontline workers are among the many affected by the changes brought on by the pandemic. In this article, you will hear from Andre Quinn, a frontline worker and former server whose career changed overnight. His story is not unlike many, navigating the disruption to his work life and financial income. Through determination and resilience, Andre was able to gain back his footing in the face of a global pandemic.

Q: Tell me about your career as a server.

AQ: My job as a server was amazing, stressful, challenging and rewarding. I got my first job as a server when I first came home from a rehab program in February of 2018. [... ]It was a good fit for me because I enjoy working with people and have a personality that people adapt to well. In May 2019, I transferred [restaurants ] for a better opportunity and also excelled there until the pandemic hit in March of 2020.

Q: Tell me more about when the pandemic hit.

AQ: I don't even recall being worried at first about losing my job. I just remember on March 17, 2020 my managers were all in the office and came out telling the servers that we were laid off. They only kept the host and cooks for the pick-up orders. They said they would give us a call if anything changed, but until the governor lifts the holds on social distancing, servers were laid off. I was the first one out of all my family and friends to lose their job during the pandemic.

Q: How did you respond?

AQ: I started to panic and my anxiety started to rise. It was very unexpected, but I knew millions of people across the world were going through the same thing so complaining wasn’t going to help me. I applied for unemployment in March and started looking for jobs right away. I was able to quickly get a job at a local pizza parlor doing deliveries to make ends meet as I continued to apply to other jobs. I wanted to continue serving, but I knew tip money was not going to be the same, and I still had bills and priorities to take care of. To this day, I have not heard back from unemployment so I’m thankful I didn’t wait to search for other jobs.

Q: Where are you now?

AQ: Right now, everything is going well. I started off at a warehouse part-time until September 13, 2020. Now I have a full-time, secure position as a warehouse associate. I didn’t like starting off as a temporary worker, but the pay was good and I knew if I followed guidelines I would exceed at the job, which I am. I like the fact I can work a consistent schedule now with consistent pay, but I don’t like the sweating that the job makes you do by carrying and moving around heavy boxes. I was smart enough to take the initiative to learn and train to be a jam breaker so now I don’t do as much consistent heavy lifting and moving all day.

I also started a YouTube channel, making videos on my days off to share my story with others. I hope my story is relatable and helpful for others going through the same thing.

Q: What have you learned through this experience?

AQ: This pandemic helped me realize how important it is to have savings and to always be grateful for what you already have. It also showed me how much drive I have. Finding coping skills to deal with any type of stress is important for mental health. As long as you're mentally strong, you can take on anything. My grandmother is who gives me hope in life every day.

Q: What advice would you give to others who are interested in switching jobs out of necessity?

AQ: My advice to anybody switching jobs out of necessity is to make sure it is something you are willing, able and capable of doing. My main challenge throughout the job search was finding something that I would actually enjoy doing and not be miserable. You don’t ever want to burn yourself out, so find something that works for you. If you don’t have any experience, just be honest with management and pay attention to on-the-job training. The best way to learn something new is by giving it your full attention.

If your job has also been affected by COVID-19, check out our resources on finding and changing jobs below:

  • The Complete Guide to Changing Careers During COVID-19 (With Tips From a Recruiter)

  • Companies Hiring During COVID-19

  • How to Use Indeed to Job Search During COVID-19

  • COVID-19: Unemployment and Job Loss Support

Transferable jobs available now

Based on key transferable skills, here are some roles hiring now that you may be able to transition to from serving:

Sales associate
National average salary: $11.45 per hour
Duties: Sales associates help customers find the right product or service that suit their needs. They also can work the cash register, tidy merchandise around the store, stock shelves and assist in-store displays. Sales associates commonly work in retail settings.
Transferable skills: Communication, customer service, sales abilities, time management

Barista
National average salary: $11.46 per hour
Duties: Baristas specialize in making coffee and espresso drinks. They usually work in coffee shops, cafes or bookstores. Responsibilities include explaining the menu, building relationships with customers, following recipes and cleaning and maintaining equipment.
Transferable skills: Communication, stamina, attention to detail, customer service

Caregiver
National average salary: $12.06 per hour
Duties: Caregivers assist sick, elderly or disabled individuals with everyday activities. Responsibilities include helping with patients' personal care, monitoring and administering medication and keeping patients safe.
Transferable skills: Empathy, communication, organization, time management

Warehouse associate
National average salary: $12.93 per hour
Duties: Typical responsibilities for a warehouse worker include receiving and processing incoming goods and materials, packing and shipping or managing and organizing inventory.
Transferable skills: Organization, stamina, time management

Customer service representative
National average salary: $13.63 per hour
Duties: Customer service representatives support customers and clients through answering inbound questions, troubleshooting issues and handling orders.
Transferable skills: Communication, empathy, problem-solving, customer service, relationship building

Administrative assistant
National average salary: $15.73 per hour
Duties: Administrative assistants provide clerical work to a company or organization. Responsibilities can include managing calendars, answering phones, handling correspondence and tracking inventory.
Transferable skills: Communication, time management, adaptability, organization

Delivery driver
National average salary: $16.37 per hour
Duties: Delivery drivers transport items from one location to another. Their responsibilities can include packing, loading and unloading items into car, interacting with customers and completing delivery documentation.
Transferable skills: Customer service, organization, time management, efficiency

Read more: 10 Best Paying Delivery Jobs

HR assistant
National average salary: $18.77 per hour
Duties: HR assistants work closely with human resource specialists. Responsibilities include administrative support, maintaining employee records and assisting with the hiring process.
Transferable skills: Attention to detail, communication, organization

Sales representative
National average salary: $65,195 per year
Duties: Sales representatives sell goods or services to customers and clients by maintaining a strong understanding of their company’s products. They typically have sales metrics they need to hit on a weekly or monthly basis.
Transferable skills: Customer service, communication, problem-solving, charisma, relationship building

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