Danica Milosavljevic: Assistant Bar Manager
Can you shortly describe a typical day on the job?
Even though the hospitality industry is often very rewarding, it's not always easy. Sometimes you must put a smile on your face whether you’re having a good or a bad day. It can also be tiresome to always entertain others, especially when you’re having “one of those days”. Night shifts can also make you a lot more tired than some other jobs.
However, you're never bored working in a venue such as the Australian 18 Footers League. You get to meet different people. You get to listen to their life stories as well as day-to-day challenges. You get to know them. Every day is completely different from the previous one and that is the charm of working in hospitality.
Why did you choose Assistant Bar Manager as your career path? What or who inspired you to do so?
To be honest, hospitality chose me. As I was an international student, when I first came to Australia, I didn’t have as many job opportunities as some other residents do. As a temporary resident, I knew I will most probably have bigger chances to find a job in either the retail or hospitality industry.
I started working in the Australian 18 Footers League in August 2019, after my friend told me about the “beautiful sailing club, right on the water in Double Bay”. Two years later, here I am, working full-time in the club which became my second home, and it became a place where I met amazing people who became my lifetime friends.
What would you say are three key personality aspects or skills that make for an Assistant Bar Manager?
Teamwork, Leadership skills and Enthusiasm.
What have you learned about yourself through the work that you do?
As I have previously studied law in my home country, Serbia, I never thought I would be working in the hospitality industry. Coming to Australia was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life so far, but also, one of the bravest.
Experiencing all the changes since leaving Serbia, starting to work in an environment like Australian 18 Footers is, I have learnt a lot about myself. I do not doubt my strength, both physical and mental anymore. I am sure that my people and communication skills have improved significantly in the last 2 years, as well as my ability to establish a good network with people from different fields of work.
What’s been your best moment while doing your work?
It was an October night that changed everything for the better. I met my best friend, my partner and then, once again, life showed me that everything happens for a reason. I had the opportunity to change my job so many times, but whenever I would have tried changing it, something kept me there. And now I know why!
And a difficult moment?
Working long hours and late nights was quite difficult for me. I used to live in Gymea Bay with my family for the first year since moving to Sydney. I used to drive for 33km one way, each day when I was working. That is 66km every day, just to get to work and come back home!
I remember I used to be so tired, that I would pull over on the highway, park the car for a few minutes, think about my life, think about how tired I was, and then I would say to myself “You can do this, come on!”, and then I would continue driving. The club gets so, so busy in summer, as the sailing season is on, and a lot of members and guests come to the club at that time.
How do you keep going when things get challenging?
I just push harder! I know that life is hard and there are so many challenges that are still in front of me, but I am looking forward to each one of them because they keep me going, they keep me alive. I love challenges and I love wins, so I do not let anything beat me and I am looking forward to seeing what the next challenge is to come.
One of the most challenging things nowadays is the pandemic that has been affecting everyone’s lives.
When working in hospitality during a pandemic, you need to be extra careful, to protect yourself, but also your colleagues and many guests who are regular visitors of the club.
On the other hand, when the lockdown is announced, hospitality venues, like our club are the first ones to be closed. It is very challenging both mentally and physically, to get used to changes and the possibility that you might lose your job.
But I must say, never lose hope. I do not. You will be fine! Nothing lasts forever.
Are there any surprising or odd things that people wouldn’t expect if they picked this career?
Definitely! If picking this career, you must know, there will be hard moments for sure! You will most likely have at least one bad experience with some rude or disrespectful people.
In my opinion, people like that deserve not to see you upset. Smile and be pleasant. Show them you are a professional by continuing to do your job the best way possible.
Can you share a funny or weird story about something you experienced in your role?
Of course! Hmmm… That was one situation that happened a couple of months after I started working in the Australian 18 Footers League. As we have different types of functions that can be booked in the club, this function called “Wake” was booked on that day.
Back then, I was working a as bar staff. On that day, we had a bar tab opened under the name “Wake”. Whenever the customers from that function would order a drink, our job was to serve them and put that drink on that tab.
I remember I was looking at the function group weirdly, as they were all wearing black, but not even for one second that it crossed my mind what that function might be. In my home country, our wakes look a lot different. People usually look very sad, and they cry a lot.
At one moment, one customer came up to me and ordered a drink. I recall telling him “What are you celebrating? Hope you are having a great time and of course, enjoy!”. I remember he looked at me weirdly, that I felt straight away I might have said something wrong.
Haha, I still remember that day, his look, and me, feeling completely lost, learning new English words, traditions and getting to know what wakes look like in Australia.
What advice would you give to young people considering pursuing a career in this industry?
Go for it! You will learn so much! You will get to know people, hear different stories, gain different skills, but most important of all, you will learn how to appreciate hard-working people! You will become a team player and you will gain both hospitality and people skills.
I have a wish to open my café/restaurant one day, and I strongly believe this experience will help me a lot in perusing my dream. Furthermore, I strongly believe that having experience in the hospitality industry is very useful for any occupation you might choose in life.
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