Junior Andrew Joblon’s workweek consists of one five-hour shift in which he makes between $250 and $450.
Joblon, a bartender at the nightclub Lulu’s Mardis Gras, said his job is great for students. He typically works one night each weekend from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the 22nd Street club.
For students who need to make money but have busy day schedules, bartending can be an opportunity to “make a lot of money in a short time,” Joblon said. “And you can meet cool people.”
Joblon, who has been working at Lulu’s for about a year, said he works with three or four other students, but most of his co-workers behind the bar are out of college.
Sophomore Adam Linet works for Dish Caterers, a catering company in Georgetown, where he bartends at events such as weddings and parties. He said he typically works about 30 hours a month and makes $18 an hour plus tips, which range from $20 to $150 a night from guests or party hosts.
“It’s a lot of physical work. You have to move around a lot and be accurate,” he said. “You know how to deal with people. But there are definitely benefits to bartending. You get a background of all the drinks, and you learn what works well together … It’s good having knowledge about drinks.”
Joblon said he did not go through any formal training for bartending; Linet completed a two-week course at a bartending school in Virginia. To pass the course, he had to make 12 drinks in seven minutes and take a multiple choice test.
Crystal Guess, a trainer at the Professional Bartending School of Virginia and Coyote Ugly bartender, said bartending is a good way for college students to earn money for tuition.
“The hours are always flexible, and there is always cash, no matter what,” Guess said. “One of the great parts about it is that it is not affected by the economy. There will always be people going out, and bartenders will always be in demand.”
The school teaches students more than 150 of the most popular drinks during a 40-hour course, Guess added. She said most of the students are 20 to 26 years old.
“It is very hands on. It is a school, but it’s not set up like a school,” she said. “The classroom is a bar, with real bottles with fake liquor. We give the lesson, then turn on the music and it’s a free-for-all. The students get to try it out themselves.”
Guess said the money bartenders make varies.
“The amount of money you can make depend on a lot of things, such as your personality, how fast you are, what night it is, what bar you’re at, and how many bars are in the restaurant,” Guess said. “In a restaurant during the day, you’re going to make less. At a club on a Saturday night, you could definitely make $300 or $400.”
Joblon said one perk of his job is being able to “hook up” his friends.
David Nelson, the manager of the Rhino Bar and Pumphouse in Georgetown, said that is one reason why he no longer hires college students to work behind the bar. He said college students have a tendency to “give the bar away.”
“They want to hook up their friends so they often won’t ring up their drinks, which is stealing,” Nelson said. “We know this is going to happen when we hire them. It’s their job to bring in a crowd, so they might bring in 50 or 60 friends in a night.”
Nelson said having no student bartenders this year is working well because the bar does not need to pay for as many training classes. He said few of his past college-aged employees were formally trained.
He said, “Most are not qualified and have no alcohol training when they come in … we don’t need that liability.”