Dear Student: Please Don’t Be Ashamed of Working at Starbucks

I was in a Starbucks recently and noticed that the barista at the counter was one of my University students. We recognized each other, and I said, “I think you were in my class last year.” She agreed that yes, she was a past student, and sheepishly said “I finished an internship and I’m still trying to get a job.” It was clearly offered as an answer to the unasked question of why she was preparing my coffee at Starbucks instead of working in the industry I had trained her to work in.

It was a quick transaction and there was a lineup behind me, so I couldn’t say what I really wanted to say in that moment. I wanted to tell her, “Don’t be embarrassed! There is no shame in working at Starbucks while you’re trying to figure things out. You have to make ends meet, and there’s no shame in hard work.”

The truth is, the hustle is real. And it’s hard. Even in technology, the job market can be fierce. It takes a while for the right position to come around. Or maybe you’re building your own thing, which can take years to get off the ground. In the meantime, bills need to be paid.

Working at Starbucks isn’t embarrassing. It’s noble. It shows that you’re willing to do whatever you need to do to keep your head above water. So my dear student, please don’t be ashamed of working at Starbucks. Who knows, I might be there working next to you one day. Although I suspect they wouldn’t take me — I’m probably not good enough to be a barista.