I make up to $2,700 in tips a week as a server. Dropping out of college was the best thing I could've done.

I embarked on my career as a restaurant server in 2020, pairing a meticulous record of my hours and tips on an Excel spreadsheet with my industrious nature. From the roots of my employment as a fast-food attendant, earning less than $8 an hour, the growth to being a server where I could earn tips was an uphill climb that became reality at the age of 18. 

Within the hospitable armchair of Cracker Barrel, I began earning between $14-17 in tips an hour, complemented by the US Department of Labor's mandated minimum cash wage of $2.13 an hour for tipped employees. Now, as a server at an upscale steakhouse, my weekly tips scale up to the thousands.

I was introduced to college but found that it wasn't aligned with my personal and professional needs. Despite being offered financial aid, my lack of a specific study path coupled with the burdens of online classes during the pandemic deterred my academic progression. After two semesters, I decided to withdraw from college to further supplement my earnings in the service industry.

On turning 19, serving alcoholic beverages became a legal capability for me, hence, I navigated towards enhanced earnings in The Cheesecake Factory. An hourly average of $25 in tips was my takeaway. Concurrently, I was on the lookout for high-grade server roles. 

I pitched for a server assistant role at an upscale steakhouse during a dining experience. It was here, for the first time, that I successfully made my entry into the fine dining service industry. Half a year later, I was elevated to the role of a server - the youngest at the establishment.

Presently, I pull in an average of $1,200 - $1,500 each week from a 30-hour work week. However, 4% of this gets directed to our bussers, food runners, and hosts as part of the tip-out system. I utilize the employer-matched 401(k) to its full potential, and even though the company provides health coverage, I'm backed by my parents’ insurance till I hit 26.

I work in proximity to a convention center, therefore, delegation dinners are frequently my served tables. Such events have contributed to my record earnings, pushing my weekly earnings to as much as $2,690. 

Reading the guests, and their body language, and providing what they desire in their dining experience is fundamental to maximizing tips. The spectrum of guests is wide; there are ones who leave a hefty tip with minimal interaction, while others, especially young guests, leave out the tip altogether.

The demanding part of my job is the unconventional working hours which prevail over my social life. Yet, the job, with its monetary benefits, was instrumental in my decision to leave college. With earnings surpassing those of my friends and no debt, my financial status has allowed me the luxury of a new vehicle and foreign vacations. 

As of now, my plan is to continue my current lifestyle, ensuring a steady income while enjoying the comforts of my home.  

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