Around this time last year, if you wanted to order a Big Mac meal, with extra sauce, and a large fry, I would have been your go-to girl.
As mentioned in my previous blog post, a week after I graduated from college with my B.S. in Marketing, I was hired as a cashier at McDonald’s. Yep, you read that right.
Upon graduation, I had no internship or job lined up. Because of this, I moved back home to Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where I was staying at the time, and had a decision to make: what the heck do I do now?
One day, just barely a week after I graduated from college, I walked up to the local McDonald’s to use the Wi-Fi for my routine job searching. On this particular day, I noticed there were open interviews going on with the store manager. My attire was far from presentable, particularly for an interview, as I was in a baseball cap, t-shirt, and sweatpants (which I don’t recommend ever wearing if you want a job). Still, despite my appearance, I boldly approached the manager and asked for an interview. He agreed. The interview went amazing! He was so impressed by how “well-spoken” and “posed” I was (lol), and within 10 minutes of chatting, he offered me a position on the spot.
This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but consider the following: 1) I had no previous customer service experience and never worked a day in my life (besides internships), 2) I refused to not work, that was not an option, and 3) I had NO OTHER JOBS LINED UP! Now, you might be thinking, “But Aley, you got a degree! Why would you settle for a job at McDonald’s??” And to that I would say, it wasn’t settling at all; it was me taking the opportunity that God laid before me and making the most of what I was given. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted the fancy job straight out of college, and I sent out dozens of emails, held coffee chats, and utilized my connections to try and get one, but it wasn’t time. God had different plans for me; plans to start my journey through adulthood that was way different from my peers.
I spent two months at McDonald’s, taking orders, getting cursed at, and washing greasy dishes. I hit the lowest part of my life during that time and thought I made a wrong turn. But my encouragement came when, after just a couple of weeks in, my manager spoke to me about becoming a manager for the store. I began training new crew members and lead my team through our shift. These opportunities opened my eyes to the leader within me that I thought I lost, and by the end of it all, I learned so much about myself. Now, before this starts sounding like a cover letter or personal statement, let’s get into all the gems McDonald’s taught me:
- Age ain’t nothing but a number: When you get out of school and enter the real world, the age dynamic shifts. You go from engaging with people who are your same age, to giving direction to people older than you and receiving direction from people younger than you. I found myself in the position of training a 30-something year old woman with a son the same age as me! This was so new to me, I was like, “Do I say yes ma’am and no ma’am? Is it Mrs.? Or are we on first name bases?” You just have to adjust and work your way through the awkwardness. That’s life.
- No job is “too small” or “beneath you”: As mentioned, I was a newly degreed young woman taking orders for McDouble’s and Big Mac meals. What do you think that did to my confidence? I questioned the worth of my degree every day. But I needed to break away from that mindset and focus on what was in front of me. Sure, I hated washing the dishes that were left behind by second shift, I didn’t want to deal with the savage drunks who pulled up to my window wanting lunch menu items during breakfast, and no, you can’t have your fries fresh with no salt, okay!? But those were small discomforts compared to the customer service skills I developed and the leader within me that resurfaced.
- Be the best at what you do: I knew my time at McDonald’s was temporary; because of this, I made it a point to work hard everyday and be the best cashier I could be. That meant showing up on time to my shifts, staying late even though I worked 10pm – 6am, 5 nights a week, and smiling through the rudest of customers. McDonald’s was practice; it gave me the experience I needed working in a fast pace environment, that I have been able to apply to my job even today. It have me the couth to stay calm and collected under pressure, and showed me that I’m tougher than I had once thought. No matter the job title, big or small, master every skill, and be best at it.
- People are always watching: Working at McDonald’s in a small town, you start to see the same faces after a while. You memorizes orders and whether you’re nice/mean/have an attitude, people notice. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor how you treat others. I remember during my last week at McDonalds, I was taking this girl’s order who was a regular during my shift. My crew member must have all gotten a drink before the shift started because they were on some other stuff that night; slacking. She noticed how collected I was even though I felt like choking them all individually, and ended up giving me a $5 tip! I didn’t want to take it, but that experience was confirmation that kindness goes a long way.
Before you leave: Let’s uplift and inspire one another; share this post with someone who you think would benefit from this knowledge! And let me know about your “worst” job experience and what you learned from it. Like, comment, and follow for new blog updates!
Aley Arion – Your Millennial Mami