What I Learned: Karen Stroup

The senior vice president with Capital One Financial Services on her high school job as a waitress at Black-eyed Pea.

Karen Stroup’s first job was waitressing at Black-eyed Pea.

“My senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to go to college out of state. My parents wanted me to stay in state, but being the shy girl all of my life, I wanted to break free. They agreed to let me go, but I needed to get a job. During my senior year of high school, I started working as a waitress at Black-eyed Pea. While I only worked there for four months, it was a great foundational job that taught me three important lessons that are now my values. The first was the importance of connecting with people. Small talk is such an important skill to have, and being a waitress taught me this. The second lesson I learned is how I show up to work sets the mood.

Working as a waitress taught her three things she’ll never forget.

When I first started, I was nervous and stressed, and you could tell. I had to learn how to mask how I was feeling on the inside. The third lesson I took away from being a waitress was to treat everyone with respect. In the restaurant business, there’s so many people working together—the bus boys, cooks, servers, etc.—you have to treat everyone with the same respect no matter what their role is. My values are very important to me, and the three I learned as a waitress I’ll never forget.”


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