I work for my schools cafeteria and the job is ok. I get free meals which is a great plus since I'm a student and my paycheck is barely taxed since I'm working for the university. The downside is that the hours aren't very good (6 am shifts), the pay is minimum wage and (in my opinion) you deal with nasty food in large quantities. (Have you ever dealt with 125 pounds of yogurt for three hours?)
My best advice for someone entering this career is to first love to cook and secondly to get into a good restaurant at a low level position (say prep cook) and stick with it working ones way up the ranks. It is hard work but very rewarding. It is a warm place to work and generally one can feed ones self quite cheaply which if one is not making very much money is a huge bonus. It can be an intense job with high pressure (one is buildng Rome every day) but the satisfaction of making a good meal and having people praise one for that is its own reward. If I had to do over again I still would, I have always enjoyed cooking and making something wholesome as well as elegant.
Anyone willing to work in a food service establishment should consider working for government institutions such as prison systems. The food service departments within state prisons are usually easy to get into by completing training to be a correctional officer. I would advise anyone interested in prison food service work to enter through the security path in order to understand the work environment and the necessity for security first. Institutional food service pays more and has more benefits than fast food restaurants, there is more job security and less competition on the job. However, anyone with doubts about working inside a prison setting should not consider such a profession as it can be highly stressful at times. Most people working in food service have not considered or even heard of the possibilities of advancement within the institutional food servive industry. The job can be an adventure or it can be a nightmare depending on the individual personality and training. Personally, if I could do it all over, I would have taken some college courses in business management which would have increased my opportunities for advancement within the upper administrative positions which pay quite well.