Why Your Barista Probably Has a College Degree

by Evil HR Lady on April 10, 2018

I have two degrees: a bachelor’s and a master’s. I wrote lots of papers, did lots of math, sang in a choir, and completely bombed a Hebrew class. What I didn’t learn to do was make coffee. (Or speak Hebrew, but that’s my own fault.)

In fact, coffee making wasn’t even an offered course at the universities I attended.

If you can go through four years of undergrad and obtain a bachelor’s degree without learning how to make coffee, why on earth does Talkdesk say they prefer a college degree for a job as a part-time barista? Here are their requirements:

  • Must be willing to work a part-time schedule from 7:00 AM-10:00 AM M-F
  • 1+ years of Barista experience in a fast-paced environment
  • Maintain confidentiality and discretion within all aspects of this role
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Team player; always willing to jump in when needed
  • Excited to be part of a fast-growing startup
  • Preferred college degree

“No, sir, I can’t tell you what type of coffee the CEO prefers, but if you hang around here he’ll come back and you can see for yourself.” Whew! Thank goodness for discretion!

How on earth did we get to this ridiculous situation?

To keep reading, click here: Why Your Barista Probably Has a College Degree

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian April 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm

We prefer higher education even if it only shows that the person can start and finish what they started. It isn’t any sort of guarantee but with part time work it good to have a work force that is disposed toward discipline required to finish college.

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Dawn April 10, 2018 at 2:50 pm

But there are plenty of people who finish what they start, but didn’t go to college for various reasons (it’s not their thing, learning issues, needed to work to take care of someone, etc.).

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Evil HR Lady April 10, 2018 at 2:50 pm

So, would you reject a 25 year old with a solid work history because of no degree? That shows they can start what they finished too.

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the gold digger April 10, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Sooooo…..

You’re recruiting for part-time help?

Which means you are not even offering benefits

or high pay

or consistent scheduling

or the potential for advancement

and you think a college degree is the best indicator of someone who will show up to work?

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Elizabeth West April 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Every word of this.

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Evil HR Lady April 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm

Yep. Gold Digger is right on.

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LaraW April 10, 2018 at 5:10 pm

This job also says it is a contractor, paying $15/hr so not even paying taxes.

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Dorothy April 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm

You treat people like commodities, but you want them to be solid gold.

Well, I guess Gold is a commodity …

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Camellia April 10, 2018 at 9:05 pm

+1000

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Goober April 10, 2018 at 5:55 pm

A company that expects me to go $100,000 in debt to do a job that can be taught to a monkey isn’t smart enough to employ me.

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Observer April 12, 2018 at 3:18 am

If you believe that a college degree is the best indicator that someone can finish what they start, and has discipline you really shouldn’t be managing people.

And, expecting that kind of debt for a PART TIME JOB? Ridiculous and arrogant.

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Tim C. April 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm

I also believe the colleges and universities are helping to create this demand. In my profession, a bachelors degree was enough 20 years ago. Now you need a doctoral, a residency (or two), and advanced credentialing. All of this costs enormous amounts of money that a student does not have. So they borrow it and indenture themselves for the next 20 years to school loans. Try to pay off $100 k debt while working as a barista.

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Elizabeth West April 10, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Yes, and I think there’s a huge web of people making money off it, because you can’t discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

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bp April 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Exactly. And then, after a few years of trying to get hired in career fields that no longer accept “just a bachelor” (especially in an older/non-traditional Grad) you end up not hirable in that, or virtually any other professional career at all… because your work history of being a barista isn’t helpful to your professional resume. Meanwhile, your credit score (also unconscionably determinate for hiring eligibility) gets destroyed because of an impossible to rectify (College) Debt to Income ratio.

And the university accountants and Student Loan Servicers laugh all the way to the bank.

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Ryan April 10, 2018 at 3:55 pm

You’d need a degree to make a coffee for someone as fussy as my boss 🙂

Too milky, not milky enough, not enough foam, too strong… etc etc

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Jill April 10, 2018 at 4:07 pm

” somehow, we got to a situation where a bachelor’s degree is equal to an old high school diploma” So much this! I work in public education and the push for college! college! college! is astounding. To the point where there is no respect for the trades, no honor for those who need to go to work right out of high school, even kids who want to enlist in the military right out of high school get looked down upon like they’re flunkies somehow.

The only reason I got a master’s degree was exactly because of this watering down of the bachelor’s degree. I’ve seen too many people in their 50’s looking for a job who get turned down simply because they have no bachelor’s degree – nevermind their 3-4 DECADES of experience and work history. I am afraid that, when I’m in my 50’s I will struggle to find work because if I “only” have a bachelors.

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Goober April 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Americans have a fetish for college degrees, while millions of blue collar jobs – many of which pay better than entry level jobs that actually *need* college degrees – go unfilled. An 18 year old with no previous job experience can be making $60k/year before he’s 19, as a welder (and if he reinvests some of that in additional certifications, he can be making $300/year before he’s 30). Machinists, auto mechanics, building trades, jobs that our technological civilization from collapsing, many employers are so desperate for workers they’ll pay for the training, and pay the trainee while they’re learning. But you’ll go home dirty at the end of the day.

I’d much rather have my toilet fixed by a plumber that served an apprenticeship (and made money doing it, rather than going into debt) with a master plumber than one with a PhD in underwater basket weaving.

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Camellia April 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

This. When we bought our house we hired a young man, Jake, who was 12 years old and lived a couple of doors down, to mow our lawn once a week for $20. So he mowed the lawn. And a couple days later we saw him outside and he was edging the lawn. And a couple days later he was out there spraying weed killer in the cracks of the sidewalk. All for that $20 a week. Turns out he had quite a large number of lawns he cared for in our neighborhood and was quite efficient about it – edging on one day, weedkiller another, etc.

By his junior year he had saved enough money to buy his own used pickup truck, which he used to expand his business. And he had a plan after graduation – become a diesel mechanic. He already had the school/training picked out, too. And he executed that plan very successfully and is well-employed today.

I would have hired Jake at any time for any thing. His work ethic was astounding, he was smart and focused, and any place is lucky to have him.

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Camellia April 10, 2018 at 9:20 pm

I should have mentioned that this was 15 years ago, so $20 a week for that was pretty good.

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Yolo April 10, 2018 at 11:08 pm

This is incredibly location-dependent, though, so I would caution anyone considering the trades to really do their research on the market in their area.

I grew up in a blue collar area, and frankly, there are not enough blue collar jobs to go around. Many trained welders and plumbers end up at Wal-mart or in a warehouse because there aren’t enough jobs, and certainly not enough with good wages.

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Goober April 10, 2018 at 11:14 pm

It all depends on what’s most important to you, finding a good paying job without being in debt for the rest of your life, or not moving to a faraway place. Both choices are valid, but every choice we make is to choose the consequences of that choice.

(And nobody should make a career decision without doing thorough research. In the case of applying to a company so desperate for skilled tradesman they’re willing to pay for the training, that kind of research into the local market is pretty much automatic.)

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grannybunny April 10, 2018 at 7:07 pm

I note that the posting only said that a degree was “preferred,” whereas prior experience as a barista was required. When I was coming up. we were encouraged to hang in there and get our high school diplomas, as that was — supposedly — the key to getting ahead in life. Now, that the vast majority completes high school, a college degree — or other post-secondary credential — is the key. These are just market forces at work. Likewise, the lack of a guarantee of good jobs for college graduates — especially in some locations — means that college-educated people are settling for less-professional work, outside their fields of study. For example, Austin, Texas has a lot of highly-educated residents, due to the presence of the huge University of Texas in what is otherwise not that large a city. As a result, the joke is that convenience store clerks there have advanced degrees. The barista scenario is even more likely for graduates who are seeking less-stressful or less-than fulltime employment.

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the gold digger April 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I lived in Austin for six years. I had to leave to find work once I got my MBA.

Now it’s crowded with lots of jobs, but housing prices have skyrocketed, property taxes are through the roof, and the traffic is awful. The people who were there through the tough times when there were almost no jobs are a little bit bitter about the changes.

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