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.

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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:

  1. 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. 200 (1)
  2. 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.200 (9)
  3. 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. 200 (4)
  4. 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. 200 (5)

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!

Sincerely,

Aley Arion – Your Millennial Mami

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Posted by:aleyarion

when i first set out to create my blog, i just wanted an outlet to balance my mundane college schedule. but over the years, it has become so much more. writing is how i process my world & the events that take place within it. through aleyarion.com, i seek to help my fellow 20-somethings, like me, working to find light when their paths seem darkened and learn from my mistakes so i can save you the trouble of repeating them. aleyarion.com is witty, vulnerable, and transparent, but most importantly, it's me, unapologetically. peace, peace, peace Aley Arion business inquiries: aleyarion@gmail.com

8 replies on “What I Learned From Working at McDonald’s (With a Degree!)

  1. I’m so happy I read this, I was feeling stuck and stagnant in my little fast food job as well lol but I’ll definitely take it as a learning experience. Greater things are in store!

    1. I’m so glad you did too, Ebone’! Trust me, I’ve definitely been there and felt the same way, but it’s all about the experience you gain and the tools you learn for the next opportunity that will be presented to you! And one more thing, you don’t have to downplay your “little” fast food job. It’s a job and you’re making money! That’s more than some can say lol Greater things are def in store for you, love!! Thanks for reading ❤

  2. I loved this! I’m currently in the same position. I have a degree and have been in a sales associate position for 5 months. I work hard and I’m given opportunities to train although I haven’t been promoted. I want to get into program coordinating. What are your tips on how you go to your next job?

    1. First off, thank you so much for taking the time out to read the post, I’m so glad it reached you. Just to point something out, after I worked at McDonald’s, I took a small break, then worked as a sales associate for 5 months at a retail store before I received my job here in NYC. So let me tell you, I understand where you’re coming from. One thing I have to ask is, have you spoken to your manager about getting a promotion? I know it would be great to be approached with an offer, but I believe wholeheartedly in speaking up for what you think/know you deserve. So, have that talk and see where it gets you. The worst they can say is no, but at least you put yourself out there and went after what you wanted. That would be my first tip! I’m actually going to go ahead and make a post about what steps I took to get the job I have now, so I can share what worked for me in FULL detail. So stay tuned, but try speaking with your manager and let me know how that works! Peace ❤

      1. Thanks for getting back with me so quick. Actually me getting a promotion is not a option because my district manger feels like since I have a degree I will leave them hanging at any moment, which is unfair because any manager could leave at anytime. But as I see it God obviously is gonna promote me to a new job all together… can’t wait to read the new post !

      2. No problem! That’s crazy that you can’t get a promotion because of that. But if that’s the case, you’re right, something else great is on the way!

  3. Thanks for sharing your stories. I’m really inspired. After I graduated college I worked at the Statue of Liberty for a year in a customer service position, did I like it no, but I worked with some genuine people. 6 months in the position, I received 2 internships, accepted both of them although niether was paid. So I was working full time and interning at 2 internships part time. When I left that job I went straight to grad school. Kept in contact with my intern colleague and supervisor, and received a position working on a tv show and music video this summer . Everyone story is different but we all have to wait for our time and be patient like you said. Again Thank you !!?

    1. First off, I want to thank you for taking the time out to read my blog and share your story with me! It really means the world that my stories have reached & inspired you in some way. I truly salute your hustle; working a full time just on top of two unpaid internships?! Then went straight to grad school??! Girl, that’s more than enough to be proud of! And you see how it paid off! Love it, love it. You are so right, I can not stress how important it is to know that everyone’s journey is different, but patience is DEF KEY! Stay encouraged, Danni! you got this! Feel free to come back and visit my blog & follow me on IG/Twitter: @aleyarion 🙂 ❤

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