Confessions of a Bartender

February 26th, 2013

By Dave Herwitz, Director, ABC Training Center

I came across a great article recently (Confessions of a Bartender: 10 Things Every Bartender Absolutely Hates About You) on the online version of the Huffington Post which offers humorous but true advice on how to comport oneself the next time you find yourself in one of the city’s drinking establishments.  To our many bartending students, well let’s say we’ll prepare you for all of these scenarios.  And for everyone else, let’s hope you’re not guilty of too many of these “sins.”  The article can be found at

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Never Missing a Beat

November 14th, 2012

By Dave Herwitz, Director, ABC Training Center

As I write this, the Tri-State area is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.  Many homes are still without power.  Parts of Queens and Staten Island look like war zones.  The geography of the Jersey shore is changed forever.

Amid all of the storm’s destruction and aftermath, we all heard stories of bravery and heroism from first responders.  No surprise here as these men and women constantly put their own safety aside in order to help those in need.  They’re truly a special breed.  And every day we saw stories on television and in the papers chronicling what they did for countless New Yorkers.

However, there is another group of people who I consider to be just as important to the well-being of our citizens in times of crisis: health care workers.  While Sandy was battering the area, thousands of health care workers reported for duty to look after those who could not look after themselves: the sick, frail and elderly.  I’ve heard so many stories of Nurse Aides, Health Aides and Medical Assistants who went out and dutifully reported to work.  Many of these folks pulled double and triple shifts.  Many camped out and slept in their place of work.  Many did so while being away from their own families, who were home contending with property damage, power outages, etc.  And all of this was done for the sake of patients who would otherwise be complete strangers.  To the countless patients and nursing home residents across the area, the continuity of care was there and was never disrupted.

Our healthcare workers in a time of crisis, like many a tough New Yorker, didn’t miss a beat.

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Information is Power

September 12th, 2012

By Dave Herwitz, Director of Admissions, ABC Training Center

This month’s job tip illustrates the importance of researching any potential employers BEFORE the interview.

OK so you’ve done your due diligence and have sent out dozens of resumes.  Your persistence has paid off because you’ve finally received a call back.  Congratulations, you have an interview lined up for next week.  Now what?  You rest up and go into the interview and hope for the best.  Right?…Wrong!  Your interview starts the second you schedule it.  What do I mean by that?  In a word: research.  Simply put, you should – no, you MUST research your prospective employer.  The old saying that “information is power” couldn’t be more relevant when it comes to prepping for a job interview.  And in this day and age, where information about anything is literally at our fingertips, there is no reason why anyone should go into an interview cold.  Better information gives you better insight into the environment of the facility.  Better information also leads to better question on your part, giving you an edge over others.

So what kind of information should you be looking for?  First there’s the easy stuff like the history of the facility, types of services offered, etc.  Then try to dig a little deeper.  Try to get a feel for who the administrators are.  What are their backgrounds?  Their education?  You may be surprised to find out that many have started out just like you.  Then try to get third-party perspectives on the facility.  Are there any reviews online?  How about Department of Health violations?  All good info to arm yourself with.

Being prepared for an interview with all of this kind of information will undoubtedly set you apart from other candidates.  Believe me.  You can never be too prepared for an interview.  So do your homework before the big day.  You’ll be glad you did.

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“No Experience Necessary” – A Cautionary Tale

May 15th, 2012

By Dave Herwitz, Director of Admissions, ABC Training Center

A few years ago I wrote the following article for a local magazine here in New York City.  It was done in response to a disturbing trend that saw scam artists taking advantage of recent immigrants, specifically from Russia.  Unfortunately, these scam operations still exist and so the article remains as relevant today as it was when it was published in 2007.


“No Experience Necessary” – A cautionary tale about an employment scam aimed at young Russian immigrants.

The ad in the help-wanted section of the Russian language newspaper advertised a bartending job in Manhattan.  “No experience necessary” – the ad stated.

“Julia,” a 20-year old from Moscow staying in Brooklyn for the summer on an S-1 visa, was interested.  She only had a few hundred dollars to live on for her trip, and jobs were proving hard to come by.  Rent in New York was expensive: she was paying $250 a month to share a small one-bedroom apartment in Coney Island with four other Russian girls.  There was only one bed, and a small couch.  All her roommates worked at what they referred to as the “agency”: a man who sent them out to work in the clubs as dancers and strippers, taking a large percentage of their earnings as a fee.

Julia didn’t want to do that.  She considered herself an intelligent young lady, highly educated in her home country, with a talent for speaking foreign languages and a background in several customer-relations jobs at hotels around the world.

But she had no green card, no Social Security number, and no prospects in the early summer of 2007.

She decided to call the number.  She was delighted when the telephone was answered by a young Russian woman, just like herself, who spoke her language.  Yes, she said, they were hiring.  She wanted to know if Julia had a bartending license.  Julia’s heart sank for a moment.  No, she answered, she didn’t.  But the woman on the phone said that it was okay — they would assist her in getting her license.  She was told to come to Manhattan the next day to be interviewed for the position.

Julia was excited. A job in New York, and a license!  Maybe things would work out after all.  She started to prepare for her interview, choosing a nice dark-blue business suit to wear.  It was the most professional-looking outfit among the clothes she had brought with her from home.  One thing did seem strange to her, though.  The woman had answered the phone without saying the name of the bar.  She had simply said, “Da.”  And the address she gave for the interview was on the seventh floor of a building in Manhattan, which didn’t sound like a bar.

Julia considered this for a moment. But just for a moment

There is no such thing as a bartending license in New York State.  Establishments serving alcohol must be licensed by the New York State Liquor Authority, but individual bartenders working in these establishments are not licensed by anyone.  A person applying for a job as a bartender need not show any certification or documentation of any kind to an employer, outside of meeting the age requirement for serving alcohol — 18 years of age.  Whether or not an establishment wishes to risk employing a non-citizen is the responsibility of the establishment.  There are several bartending schools in New York State.  Many of these are licensed by the New York State Department of Education.  At these schools, which range in price from $200 to $900 for a 40-hour training program, students learn the basics of bartending by mixing various dyed liquids liquids behind a “practice” bar to simulate the making of cocktails.  They also receive classroom instruction in cash handling, customer service, speed techniques and liquor brands, among other subjects.  The curriculum and the instructors are state-approved.

Upon completion of the course, a student usually receives some type of diploma or certificate that identifies him or her as a graduate — but it is not a license, and it does not entitle a person to work as a professional bartender.

Julia arrived at 3 p.m. the following day for her interview at a small office building on Madison Avenue.  The Russian woman whose voice she recognized from the phone sat behind a desk in a cramped room.  There was a computer, a few large binders and a telephone.  Some pictures of liquor and wine bottles were taped to the wall.

She filled out a short application. The woman told her that the opening was for a bartending job in Greenwich Village, working Saturday and Sunday daytime and a few nights a week.  The money would be very good. And it would start right away.  Also, Julia would be paid “off the books,” meaning her lack of U.S. citizenship would not be a problem.

She would simply need to pay a $399 fee for the processing of her bartending license.

Julia hesitated. That was practically all the money she had, and it had to last the whole summer.

But the woman told her that she had the job, that she would begin her training immediately, and that she would start earning a lot of cash in just one week.  As she pondered this, she noticed several other Russian-speaking girls, and some guys, coming in to fill out applications.  She feared that the offer might not last long.

And she felt comfortable speaking to the woman behind the desk.  After all, she was one of her own, from home, and she seemed to understand how hard New York was.

Julia paid with four one-hundred dollar bills.  She had been carrying all her money on her person since she arrived in the city; it was the only way she felt safe.

She was given a receipt. Across the bottom, the woman had added one notation by hand: “Non-refundable.”

Her training would begin the following Monday, at 6 p.m., in a small bar in the next room with five or six stools and two sofas.  It was empty at the moment.

The woman congratulated her, and told her she would see her on Monday.

Many bartending schools offer job placement assistance.  By law, they are not permitted to guarantee students employment as bartenders, and they must put that statement in writing, in advance.  What they usually offer is access to job leads, or one-shot private parties.  Some employers will call the bartending schools looking for graduates, but mostly, the schools will comb the want-ads just like an individual would, in this case hoping to make contacts for repeat hiring.

The competition among these schools for students is fierce.  A school with a reputation for getting its graduates hired is the gold standard.  Because of this, some schools have taken to the practice of pretending to be employment agencies.  Others have taken it a step further, by pretending to be actual bars.

A visitor to a help-wanted Web site like Craigslist or Village will find many ads for bartending jobs that turn out not to be jobs at all; they are in fact a misleading come-on for “training” programs, for the right to work at an “establishment” without prior experience.  The fees are staggering, and the target of these ads, is, of course, the unemployed.  It’s a slick bait-and-switch, not easy to pull off in a city full of cynics.

But it’s a lot easier when your target is young people.  Easier still if you can tap into a large pool of young people, far from home, away from their parents.  Young people with their summer vacation money.  Young people who trust the sound of a familiar language.  Young people who wouldn’t know where to turn after they’ve been had.

Like the huge new Russian immigrant community in Brooklyn, for example.

Julia’s training took four evenings, or 16 hours.  There were 14 other young people training as well, and all but two were Russian.  Using empty liquor bottles filled with water, they were taught how to pour liquor, how to shake and stir cocktails, and the recipes for 50 popular drinks.  There was only one bar station, so they had to wait their turns, and there was little chance for practicing what they were shown.  On the last day, each person got the chance to mix one drink they had learned using the real ingredients, and everyone tasted the drinks.

Before that, however, they had to pass a written exam.  Some did not pass.  But for $20, those people were allowed to take the same exam again, immediately, after being given the correct answers.  On one occasion, a young man who had failed the exam was told that a purchase of a two-liter bottle of Grey Goose vodka would result in his grade being changed to a passing one.

Julia got all the questions on the written exam correct, and was told to come in the following Tuesday to receive her license and job. She looked forward to the opportunity to start making money, finally.

But on Tuesday, she received the same package of materials as everyone else.  There was a diploma covered in plastic, certifying in broken English that she was now a professional bartender. And, there was a list of want ads, taken directly from Craigslist, for bartending jobs.  They were simply re-written and issued under the office’s logo, obviously by a person who didn’t quite understand the wording of the original ads.  The name of one restaurant on the list was “Upscale Restaurant,” how the original ad’s heading had read.

Julia was aghast. What about the bar in the Village, with the weekend days and the weeknights?

“Some of these are in the Village,” she was told.

“And what about my license? This doesn’t look like a license!”

The owner, a gruff man, angrily told her in Russian to get out.

Not quite believing what was happening, she tried bringing her certificate to one of the places on the list the next day.  No one was expecting her.  The manager had never heard of the little office on Madison Avenue.  She showed him her license.  The loud laughter of the manager, and of the bartender on duty, rang in her ears as she walked out. She felt the tears coming on.

Someone in her apartment building advised her to call 311, to find out how to file a complaint against the business.  After being connected to what seemed like a thousand different phone numbers, she reached the Department of Education in Albany.

They were sorry, she was told, but it was not a licensed school, and therefore not subject to their regulation.

She called the Madison Avenue office. The owner answered. She was given the following instructions: “F— you. Take me to court.”

Julia, having learned a hard lesson, will be going home to Russia in a few weeks.


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6 Seconds

April 20th, 2012

By Dave Herwitz, Director of Admissions, ABC Training Center

6 seconds.  Not a lot of time.  It will probably take you 6 seconds to read the title of this blog post and the first sentence or two.  Yet according to research done by the Ladders employment website, job recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking over your resume to determine if you are a “fit” or not (  Not a lot of time, is it?  Think about all of the years of school and training.  Think of all the hours spent studying and preparing for tests.  For those of you already working, think of all the long hours put in to your career.   And all you get are 6 seconds to make an impression.  6 seconds to make the recruiter, who has just scanned over several dozen resumes, take notice of yours.  Not fair, but it’s the reality of the job hunting game.

Too many people put very little thought into their resume.  And yet it is one of the biggest sales tools in your arsenal.  It’s what gets you in the door, so it MUST be effective.  It MUST make the recruiter say: “I need to talk to this guy a little more.”  One of the biggest pieces of advice I like to give is the “second pair of eyes” test.  Create your resume and have a trusted friend, relative or colleague look it over and ask them: “would YOU call me in for an interview?”  Brutal honesty is the key here.  Tell them to be as forthcoming as possible.  And don’t take offense to anything that might be said.  Think of any criticism as a way to improve your chances of getting that call back.  Another piece of advice that I like to give is to approach your resume writing the way a writer approaches an article or novel.  Create several versions or drafts of it and be picky.  If you’re satisfied with it after the first draft, then it’s no good.  Make sure it’s visually appealing and conceptually compelling.  Obsess over it.  Tweak it – a lot.  And do yourself a favor – make sure it is free of spelling and grammar errors.  Those are absolutely unacceptable and would cause me to dismiss a candidate regardless of experience and training.

So do yourself a favor and create a winning, eye-catching, powerful resume.  Because you only have 6 seconds.  One, two, three…

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Our Most Valuable Assets

February 14th, 2012

By Dave Herwitz, Director of Admissions, ABC Training Center

As many of our friends know, ABC Training Center has been a staple in New York City’s medical career training field since the early 1970s.  That’s a long time in this business and over the years we’ve witnessed countless changes all around us – political, technological, economic, etc.  But all along, we’ve been fortunate to have had steady leadership that realizes that a successful business is one that can adapt and change with the world around us.  Doomed are the companies that are not fast enough to change and adapt.  (See Blockbuster Video Stores, Palm Pilots, CD/Record stores and, most recently Kodak, for proof of this.).

And while ABC has been quick to adapt to a changing world, there’s one area of our business that has pretty much stayed the same: our teachers.  Instructors are the number one asset of any school and they are probably the single most important reason why thousands of our students have achieved career success over the years.  At the end of every course, we ask students to write down an honest assessment of their instructors here at ABC.  I’m always amazed at the responses we get, such as:

“I have no areas of concern.  When you talk, you know what you are talking about.  Thank you.”

“I want you to continue teaching at ABC because you make students successful.”

“You treat everybody with respect and encourage us to learn everything.  Keep it up.”

“Amazing instructor, need not change anything.  I loved the hands-on and her teaching patterns.”

“It was a pleasure to be with this teacher and because of her I would recommend this school to family and friends.”

“I really enjoyed the way you asked questions out loud and how we had to answer them.  It really stuck in my head that way.”

“I’m never going to forget you.  You are the best of the best.  God bless you.”

“My teacher has an art to her teaching.  She brings clarity and understanding to everything in class.”

“I enjoy coming to class, the atmosphere is awesome.”

“I love the way you teach… You are the best and I am happy to be in your class.”

So in the end it’s not the building you’re in that makes a good school.  It’s not the computers and equipment you’re using.  It’s not the textbooks, notes or study materials that you read.  It’s the teachers, plain and simple.  It’s been said that to succeed in business you should do one thing and do it better than everyone else.   Here at ABC Training, we’ve been able to pick the best of the best when it comes to our esteemed instructors and we’re proud to say that we do that better than anyone else.

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Working Your Network

January 4th, 2012

By Carlton Fenton, Job Placement Coordinator, ABC Training Center

Our January job tip speaks to the importance of working your networks and connections within the organizations that you wish to work for.

If you follow the advice of career experts, you know to “dig the well before you’re thirsty.”  In other words, prepare for your next job search by continually building and strengthening the relationships within your professional network.  Asking your network for job leads is not a best practice of professional networking.  Instead you should find and assess jobs that you are a match for and then locate advocates to help you connect the dots.  It works like this: once you’ve identified a position you’re interested in and for which you are a solid match, identify your advocates before submitting your value proposition cover letter and targeted resume).  The number one best source is people that are currently working at the facility (H.R. professionals, your peers, recruiters that work with the facility or hospital).

Since every corporation has its own culture and processes, business intelligence is the most effective way to navigate the system of gatekeepers.  Accurate information is invaluable.  There are lots of stories about qualified candidates who were great matches for positions.  But these candidates missed out on opportunities because they didn’t present their skills in the proper manner for the target company.  You need to speak their language.  After all, isn’t that what a targeted resume is all about?  Once you’ve identified advocates for a position, you’ll be armed with the information and support system that allows you to manage the hiring process for maximum effect.

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Be the First to Get the Interview

December 9th, 2011

By Jay Brill, ABC Training Center

Our second installment of our Job Tips series looks at an effective way to fill out a job application quickly AND accurately, therefore getting a job offer sooner.  Here at ABC Training Center, our graduates often report that they are completing interview applications only to find out that someone who has already seen the interviewer has already gotten the job.

How do you try to be the first interviewed?  The answer is by completing the employment application accurately and thoroughly before anyone else does.  If you are the first one into the office, you have a good chance of getting the job.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Get some 3×5 blank cards
  2. At home, write down all of the important information you may be required to provide on a job application.
    • Name of the schools you went to and the dates
    • Social Security number
    • References with names and addresses
    • Any certificates or licenses that you hold
    • Former addresses, current phone number, etc.

After you are given the employment application to complete, whip out your cards, copy the information, be ready to begin the interview.

Good luck.

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The More Things Change…

November 28th, 2011

By Dave Herwitz, Director of Admissions, ABC Training Center

As I was surfing the internet today looking for some topics to blog on, I turned to my trusty friend Google and did a simple search under the term “Medical Careers.”  What I found was an article from the Palm Beach Post which said the following:

“Anyone seeking a rewarding, essential career today need look no farther than his local hospital.  Hospitals and clinics throughout the country have been pinched in recent years by a serious shortage of trained medical personnel.  The key word is “trained”.  A person with as little as six weeks schooling can fill a useful hospital position but untrained workers are often turned away.

“‘We are cognizant of the fact that well-trained people don’t just drop out of the sky,’ says William Mauser of John F Kennedy Memorial Hospital.”

The article then goes into detail about the different types of training that many facilities in the Palm Beach Area are offering due to the medical career job shortage.  The article finishes with:

“There are literally hundreds of jobs that are vitally necessary to the orderly operation of a hospital.  The hospital medical team includes many jobs, some common, some uncommon.  Most of them are in need of personnel and all require training.”

So nothing earth shattering here.  The main theme of this piece is what we preach on a daily basis here at ABC Training Center.  For real job security, for steady employment, for good paying careers – look no further than a medical career path (and good training of course).

However there was one thing that stood out from this article.

It was published 40 years ago on May 10, 1971.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Want to Get That Job?

November 9th, 2011

By Jay Brill, ABC Training Center

Here at ABC Training Center, we take pride in having helped thousands of New Yorkers obtain jobs in the lucrative medical career field.  And a big part of what we do continues after a student completes his or her studies.  For example we recently launched our interactive job board ( which allows ABC graduates to post their resumes online.  This lets our job placement office match up those candidates with current job openings.  Another idea that we had was to start using our blog as a place to share job hunting tips, and to do it on a monthly basis.  So we kick off our monthly Job Tip series with this bit of advice that was sent to us by a recent grad:

The best tip I ever received from the ABC Placement Office was about visiting the place of employment early in the morning before the time the interview was scheduled.

I made sure I was at the Nursing Home at 7:30 for a 9AM interview.  I went directly to the cafeteria and sat down with my cup of coffee and asked the C.N.A’s,( they wear  badges), to sit down with me and to please answer a few questions before I was to be interviewed for a  C.N.A. job.  Almost all of them were receptive and wanted to help me out.

I learned that the Nursing Director was especially interested in fire protection.  I was able to use the time to organize my thoughts about what I learned in class concerning R-A-C-E and had time to review my textbook, which I brought to the interview in case I wanted to show the interviewer what I covered in class.

When I was interviewed and asked about fire and fire protection and the treatment and procedures in working with residents under fire conditions, I was ready to “spin my tale”.  I impressed the Nursing Director and got the job.   Thanks, ABC.”

You’re welcome.

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