5 things that one can learn while working at McDonalds

Published January 8, 2013 by Tjchase

5 life lessons learned by working at McDonald’s
A McDonald’s vice president interviewed 43 veterans of the restaurant and gleaned 5 common life lessons they learned while working at the ‘golden arches.’
By Jeanette Mulvey, BusinessNewsDaily Wed, Sep 19 2012 at 3:29 PM

McDonald's Big Mac from Australia
What do actress Andie MacDowell, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and comedian Jay Leno all have in common? They all once worked at fast-food chain McDonald’s.

Despite the punch lines surrounding so-called dead-end jobs at fast-food restaurants, working at McDonald’s has been the launching point for many a successful career.

McDonald’s employees learn a lot more than how to flip burgers and work the deep fryer, said Cody Teets, a 32-year McDonald’s veteran and author of the new book, “Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers that Began at McDonald’s” (Cider Mill Press, 2012). Teets started working at McDonald’s when she was 16 and today is responsible for 800 McDonald’s restaurants as vice president and general manager of the company’s Rocky Mountain region. Teets said there are plenty of opportunities for learning life lessons while working in the shadow of the golden arches.

In the book, Teets said that, since the chain’s founding in 1955, more than 20 million Americans have earned their first paychecks as McDonald’s employees. Every year, that number grows by another 400,000, Teets said.

“I was one of those when I started my career at McDonald’s three decades ago. I stayed with the company, but was always curious about the majority of young people who stay a year or less and go on to careers in other fields,” she said.

For her book, Teets interviewed 43 other McDonald’s veterans and asked them to identify the lessons they learned while working at McDonald’s. Five major lessons emerged:

No task is beneath you. All honest work is noble, Teets said. “In a well-run restaurant, every member of the crew has to take responsibility for his or her job, to pitch in without being asked when someone else needs help or a task needs doing, even if it’s scrubbing the toilets,” she said. “McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was famous for dropping in on a restaurant, driving [up in] his Cadillac, dressed in his business suit and gold watch, and then asking for a mop so he could clean up some spilled mustard,” Teets said.

She went on to describe how L.A. Dodgers’ second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. said his experience on a McDonald’s crew taught him the value of teamwork. Hairston told Teets he felt pressure not to slack off because the other crew members relied on him.

Challenge yourself to master new skills. No matter how basic the task, you should take pride in what you do, Teets said. “When Andie MacDowell worked in a restaurant in Gaffney, S.C., she discovered she was good at running the register and counting change. She became so conscientious about getting it right every time that she found herself anxiously counting change in her dreams, Teets said.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recalled how proud he was that he could crack 300 eggs into a bowl with one hand. As Teets said, every job can teach you something about yourself, even if it’s just to learn what you don’t like.

“More often, people discover new strengths,” Teets said. She cites McDonald’s U.S. CEO Jan Fields, who overcame shyness when she had to work the front register, discovering she had a gift for making people feel

Roll with the punches. Working at McDonald’s or any fast-paced business teaches employees to stay focused under pressure, Teets said.

“Mike Grice is a decorated Marine Corps lieutenant colonel whose first real job off the family ranch was at a McDonald’s in Colorado,” she said. “During lunch and dinner rushes, the crew had to work together to keep things moving and customers happy. There were no timeouts. When there were glitches, the crew couldn’t just close the doors and fix the problems. What Grice learned about being an effective decision-maker under stress served him well during his multiple tours of duty in the Middle East.” In any enterprise, there will always be a crisis, Teets said. Successful leaders tend to be individuals who can solve problems without panicking and creating new ones.

Learn from the successes of others. Teets interviewed a number of immigrants and minorities who eventually opened McDonald’s franchises of their own.

“All of them did it by following the examples of their supervisors, managers and restaurant owners,” said Teets.
“NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao remembers being impressed by how well organized everything was and how the restaurant seemed to work like a well-oiled machine,” Teets said. She added that Chiao appreciated those lessons after becoming an engineer and a pilot.

Drew Nieporent, a successful New York restaurateur who owns Tribeca Grill with actor Robert DeNiro, still uses the lessons he learned while working at McDonald’s, even as he’s moved on to gourmet restaurants, Teets discovered.

“As a current restaurant owner,” he said, “seeing McDonald’s on the resumes of applicants would be a huge plus.”

How to deal with people. Being a good leader means knowing what makes each person tick, Teets said. It means “learning that each person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and the way to get the most from others is to play to their strengths,” she said. Teets added that former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who worked his way through college at a McDonald’s, said a big part of his job was finding different ways to help each employee succeed.

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Related on BusinessNewsDaily:
10 Personality Types Most Likely to Get Hired
11 Things That Make Workers Happy
24 Things Not to Put on Your Resume

This story was originally written for BusinessNewsDaily and is reprinted with permission here. Copyright 2012 BusinessNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company.
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s Jan 06 2013 at 4:44 PM
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o.o sup Jan 06 2013 at 2:50 PM
When ever i go to Mickey D’s i get the Bic Mac no onions a choclate milkshake and some fries. ^-^
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Tyler Dec 30 2012 at 11:51 PM
The first thing you’d have to learn to take a job at McDonald’s is how to serve satan and be devoid of any real care about your fellow citizen. You are poisoning people for a few bucks an hour to be able to afford some weed on the weekend, how can people honestly twist anything about working there into a positive thing. “You know the positive virtues I gained while killing people for money, they are…..(insert BS here to deal with the conscience)”.
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Harold Hunziker Dec 11 2012 at 6:19 PM
Great lessons for life
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joe Nov 27 2012 at 9:36 AM
What about making everyone FAT with HIGH SUGAR HIGH CARBS HIGH SATURATED FAT, Making all our children FAT, and employing minors because they don’t want to pay full wages!
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Aya Dec 11 2012 at 8:59 AM
you dont get fat if you dont eat too much? if you are fat, clearly you have the inability to cook you own meal…True story.
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Self Dec 08 2012 at 7:49 PM
McDonald’s and other fast food companies do not come to our homes and force feed us their foods with tubes or at gunpoint. “THEY” do not make us fat. The choices we make – make us fat. You can eat an overall healthy diet, and from time to time eat fast food, and not be overweight. Get your head out of your ass.
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Guest Dec 05 2012 at 7:43 PM
and of course, thats the employee’s fault. @.@
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anonymous Nov 21 2012 at 2:36 AM
Hi 🙂 For those people who have worked for McDonald’s and quit the first couple of months I could care less about what u say because u have no experience and have no say in this conversation I on the other hand, have been working for 3years now and I put my time,life and tears to be where I am now.. And to those people that judge about how McDonald’s work how “lazy” we all are and how all your food is shit and had to call corporate on us let me tell u something McDonald’s is not your fancy *** restaurant …. More
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Dr. Doom Nov 20 2012 at 6:18 AM
Dislikes? Being Hustled To DONATE $
-Hiring Older And ugly Women with Burned out Attitudes
Hire the Younger Kids and ost are the Girls with Happier Attitudes
-Most of the Boys? Marginal Attitudes
-Most are SPOILED Kids..
Give them a Sales Training and Commission, to make them Feel they REALLY are part of the Team..
9 out of 10 workers should be on 50% Commission and 50% Salary
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ms.pr.dr1981 Nov 17 2012 at 10:45 AM
Where are these fantastic McDonalds people have worked for? I’ve worked in two at different times and locations and the customers treat you shit, the managers treat you unfairly, the coworkers all hate each other and all jobs are beneth you. I was 16 when I first worked there. I was 19 at my next McD job. This is a job for 6months or less not years. Come work at a NYC Mcdonalds to see if you last more than a few months.
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nanciesweb Nov 20 2012 at 11:02 PM
I’ve worked at a McD’s in VT, and had the same trouble. I could have sworn that I had signed up to some soap opera instead. But, it DID teach me how to deal with people, how to spot and avoid drama, and how to appreciate any other job offer that came my way. If you are there, believe it or not, you will come out much stronger with a better perspective on life than some kid who was coddled through college. Good luck to you.
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Erik Michielsen Nov 16 2012 at 10:15 AM
This is a great conversation to have. I don’t think we pause enough to reflect upon those “stepping stone” moments that have shaped our character, work ethic, and aspirations. Much can be learned from those crazy jobs we toiled in as high school and college students. My documentary interview series on aspirational career development is focused on following up and coming professionals as they develop new career and life skills and experiences and work toward more purpose and meaning in their life. …. More
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Enter your name Nov 11 2012 at 3:56 AM
My first job was at McDonald’s,..I made many wonderful long time friends! The first thing I was taught ,was incredible work ethics! My manager always told me “we don’t pay you to stand around”.
I was 15 years old when I worked there. I ended up owning my own business and when I saw McDonald’s on anyone’s resume,..I knew automatically that they would be an asset to my team! I was right!!!
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jamalam Oct 30 2012 at 4:58 PM
“What I don’t want to be when I grow up.”
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Ayah Oct 27 2012 at 1:22 PM
All this “diversity” corporate recruiting material makes me vomit. McDonald’s may trot out all the black and Hispanic/Latino workers they’ve so generously promoted, but where I live, McDonald’s has been sued SEVERAL times for flat-out refusing to hire Muslim women who cover their hair. So I guess they value diversity only up to a point and no further.
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Guest Jan 02 2013 at 5:26 PM
Agreed! McDonalds LOVES to talk about diversity and change. I didn’t grow up in a very diverse neighbourhood, it was predominantly white middle-class. So when a coloured girl was hired she was quickly forced to quit because of inequality and all the extra duties she had to do that everyone else did not have to when first starting, it was very obvious. I quit soon after her because of the fact that I spoke up and was told to not stick my nose in things…. I thought this was just a problem with …. More
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Guest Nov 24 2012 at 11:45 AM
I agree that it is wrong, and illegal, to refuse to hire any particular ethnic or religious group. However, I think you may be unaware of the fact that pork products are prepared and sold at McDonald’s. I am not Muslim, but I have read that Muslims and Orthodox Jews don’t eat pork, such as bacon. If someone orders a bacon cheeseburgar, or sausage and eggs on a muffin, would a Muslim woman be allowed to prepare the food? I think the Muslim person or Orthodox Jewish person should be able to make the …. More
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Car Car Oct 26 2012 at 12:29 PM
This is bullshit… Corporate propaganda.. its also been constantly listed as one of the worst places to work in the U.S. with some of the worst work benefits. And yes I have worked at McDonalds… and it is terrible. I think any of these things in the article could be learned from literally any other job.
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Rehmat Ali Oct 24 2012 at 12:40 PM
Working in Mcdonald’s is so tough that many people quit on OJE. And those who continues becomes so strong that they can work any place in this world if they were sincere during their work period with Mcdonald’s.
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Texas Aggie Oct 21 2012 at 9:17 PM
I learned that you get more satisfaction out of filling the milk shake glasses (in those days it actually was a dairy product) to just under the maximum than just over the minimum. And doing mix and match with the soft drink flavors in the milk shakes was fun, too. I recommend the root beer flavored milk shakes. And “burgers for the boys” was always a welcome cry at the end of the night. And did I mention that in those days we also sliced real whole potatoes to make french fries?
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annonymous Oct 21 2012 at 6:20 PM
I agree any honest job is noble,however having worked at a couple of fast food establishments, there are several points that are very true.No one truly realizes that it is more than flipping burgers and dropping fries. It’s getting to know your customers and listening to there problems whether you feel like it or not ..Not all food establishments are dirty and nasty, some actually work by health standards. And as with any business it all depends on the store and general managers view on how things …. More
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melpadillapag Oct 11 2012 at 10:53 AM
Whatever, hate McDonalds, it is a corporation that promotes obesity and it has an animal cruelty record!
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Podunk Chuck Oct 05 2012 at 3:59 AM
This is an idiotic article. Any first job for a good employer can give one all of the skills mentioned herein. The difference is that this is a cloaked advertisement for a corporation that fosters obesity.
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Tarrant Sep 25 2012 at 7:08 PM
My son’s first job was at McDonalds and it gave him a good reference for his next job. He worked hard and moved up while in high school. One of the biggest lessons he learned was going to work even if his friends had something more fun scheduled. McDonalds has a super tough policy about not calling in and he respected that. I don’t think he’s stepped foot in a McDonalds since he left there–but it was a good first “real” job for him.
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