McDonald’s, the ubiquitous M that has captured the dreams of carb-craving kids and adults alike. Unlike most people, I started a part-time job at McDonald’s because I wanted to try something new. It sounds crazy, I know, but I genuinely wanted to experience working at a fast-food restaurant.
I was surprised at the multiple rounds of interview process I had to go through before getting the job. On my first interview, the supervisor was bragging about himself and how he got his job. (He was a computer engineer who couldn’t get a job after graduation, so he decided to give McDonald’s a shot). The next interview was with the store manager, who fired some rapid-fire questions like “Why do you want to work here” before whispering to me the date of the orientation. Apparently, the trick is to tell them you want to work there long-term, not just for a couple of months. I saw one girl who didn’t make it because she said (in honesty) that she just wanted a summer job. It almost made me feel bad taking jobs away from high school students.
My First Day
My first day of training was actually not training. The manager had called me by mistake (there were two Vivians working at my location), and asked me to work on a shift that was originally unscheduled for me. So I agreed, eager to jump into the work, and I was immediately thrown into making fries.
I was impressed by McDonald’s fully automated production chain – dump in a bag of frozen fries, put a tray in the fryer, press a button, wait a bit, press another button, shake the oil out, then dump the fries out of the tray to be salted. Every prepared package or seasoning was already in its prepackaged proportion, which made it easy to restock.
My first day actually went well, save for two grouchy customers that cussed at me because I kept on messing up their order. Granted, it was my fault, but it took great forbearance not to lose my temper. I guess it takes a lot of tolerance to put up with angry customers.
If you do happen to work at a fast-food joint at some point in your life, you’ll learn how multitask efficiently. While taking orders, you have to keep track of the food coming out and pack the customer’s order. It took a while to get used to their order screen, which allows you to order the minutest detail like packing an extra Big Mac sauce (yes that does exist) or omitting just the lettuce and cheese.
The busiest position however is the drive-through window. While taking someone’s order, you have to simultaneously cash in the previous person’s order, all the while check up on the food. Thankfully there is usually a runner to assist the drive-through cashier. Trust me, doing that job really trains your reaction time, listening and multitasking skills.
Most of the customers are pretty nice. If you mess up their order, either explain to them that you’re new there or give them extra fries, and they will most likely forgive you. You do get the occasional bums who linger around the store for too long, but they are usually harmless. But some customers can be really, really picky (i.e. ordering a double cheeseburger without pickles, unsalted patty, and medium toasted buns), but that comes along with any service industry job. Just make sure you serve with a smile.
Fortunately for me, most of the staff were pretty friendly. Most of them were high school kids who took me as one of their own, which is perfectly fine with me. Managers are usually middle-aged women in their early 40s who has worked there for 15+ years. They can be grouchy at times, but they are understanding if you need to take days off.
McDonald employees get 50% off of most food items (except for the Value menu since it’s already so cheap), which is a great way to try new things that you would normally not buy (like a double Big Mac) or get a meal for your whole family. You also get free drinks during your shift, but that’s limited to things like pop and coffee (though most employees get themselves an iced coffee now and then).
There is a chance to receive a bonus when you get a mystery shopper. That is, someone paid by McDonald’s will stop by your location to rate your service. If you get top ratings, your manager will give you a $30-$50 bonus.
The Bottom Line
The pay aside, working at McDonald’s can be rewarding. Do take that with a grain of salt though – sometimes the work is hard and dirty, like wiping down tables, taking out trash, washing filthy trays. If you can endure those aspects (plus your manager’s occasional rants), you might find yourself a job that you actually enjoy.