Most students are required to wear a dull uniform to work, but University of Wisconsin junior Katie Kitchen can slip on a drinking glove at her job as a bartender at the Kollege Klub.
Working at a bar has many benefits, according to Kitchen. Calling herself a night person, Kitchen said the hours at a bar are favorable because there are no early morning shifts like at many other students’ jobs.
“It’s a lot of fun also to be able to be out at a bar, seeing all of your friends and making money, not spending it,” Kitchen said. “The next day you don’t wake up with a hangover.”
Kitchen, who majors in sociology and is taking 15 credits this semester and is also an active member of Chi Omega sorority, said it is difficult to balance class, a sorority and a job.
“If you think you can handle it, then you should do it. But it is kind of hard having a job and taking classes and trying to do well,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen waitresses three lunch shifts and then jumps behind the bar two weekend nights per week at the KK.
“I spend a lot of time at College Library, but I also spend a lot of time at the KK,” she said. “Working during the year definitely forces you to prioritize and work on time management.”
Kitchen began her career as a bartender by waitressing at the KK during the day. She was then taught the basics of pouring drinks, but learned a lot by watching the other bartenders at work. With each shift she worked, Kitchen learned more and more about bartending.
Kitchen said she believes it is easier to bartend in the small world of a college campus, as opposed to a big city, because it is a lot more fun seeing many people she knows each time she goes to work.
The social atmosphere of local bars is an exciting job, according to Kitchen. However, there still are some drawbacks to working at a bar, such as dealing with drunken patrons.
“Problems I’ve had are the inappropriate things drunk people say to you or when people are ordering drinks from you all night,” she added.
Kitchen said some customers think it is acceptable to say rude comments to bartenders. Patrons often do not realize how drunk they are or how offensive their comments are to sober bartenders who deal with them each night.
Sara Kanawati, a UW senior, said her experiences at the KK and other bars have given her a number of chances to witness many of the challenges a bartender has to deal with on the weekends.
“I can’t even imagine what the bartenders at [bars] have to deal with,” Kanawati said. “I see what comes out of the KK at two a.m.”
Kitchen said despite the negative effects alcohol has on patrons, intoxicated customers can still be amusing to bartenders at times.
“It’s just funny because I work right by the dance floor so it’s entertaining every night,” she said.