General Question

nuclearbob's avatar

Is working at McDonald's a worthwhile summer job?

Asked by nuclearbob (9points) June 2nd, 2009

I’m a teen who’s getting his first summer job. I get good grades and am an honest, hard worker, but apparently my parents think that working at McDonald’s is a worthwhile, ‘character-building’ experience.

I really do not want to waste my summer, as I am skilled enough to do freelance or charity work on my own. I have heard that colleges value personal initiative more than anything else, so these would even be more worthwhile activities. Even after explaining this, they still believe McDonald’s is the better choice, citing ‘character-building’.

Is this true? Or will I be wasting my summer flipping hamburgers?

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25 Answers

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MrItty's avatar

I worked at McD for a “summer job” when I was 16…. and stayed there for over three years. I left the job as a manager, and listed it on my resume for college applications and “real” summer jobs between college semesters.

There’s nothing “wrong” with it, certainly. But if you can get a job that’s more directly related to your intended field, I’d go for that.

MrGV's avatar

Any job is a worthwhile job.
1. Spending money
2. Experience to get other jobs later on
3. Helps you interact with other people better
and the list goes on.

basp's avatar

Every job is worthwhile. The important thing is to do your best and learn from the experience.

ubersiren's avatar

Give it a try. If it’s not fulfilling you the way you expected, upgrade to Target. Tell your parents that my best friend worked at McDonalds for 3 years in high school and now has a law degree and is a manager of a resort hotel.

dynamicduo's avatar

Are you skilled enough to file your own taxes and run your own business? Cause that’s what serious freelancing requires. I highly recommend you take a teen style job such as McDonald’s for your first job if you want to make any amount of actual substantial money. That way you will learn how tax is deducted from your pay as well as learning many skills about working with others.

I worked there for a few years part time then as a manager while in school. I’ve gone through university and work at a big tech company now. It is valuable experience, it’s an easy job, it’s a good way to get used to being on time etc. For me, it helped me to learn that I was a great manager, and this helped me get my next job, and that job helped the one after that, etc.

College will not care one bit. Trust me on this.

dynamicduo's avatar

Oh, by the way, there is much more to learn at McDick’s than flipping burgers, if you are really dedicated and talented (read, a good listener and follower of instructions), you can learn all three stations (back, cash, and drive through) and then become more of a leader… It’s really what you make of it. If you treat it like flipping burgers, as many kids did in my store, then yeah, you will have a boring time. But if you actually care a bit, you can learn a ton of stuff.

Les's avatar

My high school/ early college job was working at a local bakery. I think what your parents are referring to when the say “character building” is that you will learn what it is like to work with other people, depend on them, customer service, etc. I know that all sounds trivial, but it all of the experiences I had at the bakery, trite as the seemed then, really taught me a lot about how to deal with people. As dynamicduo said, it will be what you make of it. If you do go ahead and get a job there, treat every day as a learning experience. How you interact with you coworkers, boss and customers will only benefit you in the long run.

evolverevolve's avatar

You’re young, accept the job with the least responsibility, do just enough work to not get fired, have fun with it. McD’s would probably be fun, but you have to make it fun. Plus, you get to eat burgers, get those little toys, and ohhhh, when monopoly comes back? That’s when the real fun would begin…

dynamicduo's avatar

Sorry, one last point here :) I treated it like a serious job, and I was recognized and treated with more respect and given more opportunities to advance myself. At the end of my McD’s “career” I had a great relationship with many people there who are now still friends. My last boss there was a great guy who I visit even nowadays. I can say without a doubt, working there was not a waste of my time, despite the fact that I could have freelanced and developed my web design company. (I’m actually glad I waited to start that, I learned a great deal and would have made quite a few mistakes if I had started back then.)

Judi's avatar

Learning to work as a team IS charicter building.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I did well enough at McDonald’s in my two years there as a teen that the head manager tried to get me to apply for Hamburger U at the end of my senior year. He was actually disappointed when I told him, thanks, but no thanks, I was going to UW-Madison. I learned a lot of skills that I’ve used in jobs since, especially at it related to supervising and managing people and resources.

nuclearbob's avatar

Thanks so much for all your great answers. I definitely didn’t expect so many quality responses in such a short time! Before, I felt very nervous about taking the job at McDonald’s. Now I can say with certainty that I am excited to go out to work. Once again, thank you so much!

gailcalled's avatar

All of the above answers make sense, unless in the next few weeks you can find a job that suits both you and your parents. And, do not, under any circumstances, eat the food. Bring a brown bag in a plain brown wrapper.

Judi's avatar

@gailcalled is right. Make a rule that you won’t eat the food while you work there. If you start with that rule from the beginning you won’t blimp out from the food. I had that rule with my first job at Taco Bell, back in the olden days where we had to memorize what $.19 times anything was because the cash register was not advanced enough to do it and it would take to long to run $.19 ten or twenty times on the register tape.

skfinkel's avatar

Read “Nickeled and Dimed” first. Then decide.

CMaz's avatar

Making money is worthwhile. How you do it is up to you.

SirBailey's avatar

“A worthwhile SUMMER job”??? In THIS economy, it’s a worthwhile job, PERIOD! Good luck.

cwilbur's avatar

A McDonald’s job is better than no job, and you will learn a lot about teamwork, responsibility, and working with other people. You’ll also have something to do with your time, and you’ll have income.

Working as a freelancer is a big risk. I tried it a while back, and I learned the hard way just how difficult it is. It’s not the subject matter that makes it difficult; it’s selling yourself, sending out invoices, collecting what’s owed you, and filing all the necessary paperwork. If you can make it work, it will look better to colleges; if you can’t make it work, it will look worse.

I happen to think that trying freelancing and finding out whether it suits you or not would be a good use of the summer, especially if the whole thing is a learning opportunity for you. But I am not your parents.

bonus's avatar

As a guy who paid his way through high school and college working as a cook, I would almost say yes. Yes to working in a restaurant. No to McDonalds. If you want to get some chops, work in a busy restaurant. A diner is fine. Or, someplace really delicious is better. If you learn how to wait in a great restaurant, you can make a TON of money later when you are in college. Plus, it is very social and fun. Also, a good way to get into bartending which can be great for a college kid.

McDonald’s on the other hand, will teach you to be a robot. A sad, broken monkeydog. Don’t do it if you can avoid it.

Lupin's avatar

If you work at McDs and perform like a bot you’ll learn nothing. But, if you work well, look around and try to understand the operation, you’ll see more than you ever thought possible. Some quick lessons come to mind: how a corporation works, how to train people, franchising, ordering, regional differences, menu pricing, quality control, trucking, logistics, customer service… Keep your eyes open and think about the previous step and the next step for everything in the building. I still use some of cooking techniques I learned there whenever I host a large party and fire up my backyard grill.
“Twelve down, Cheese on 6, Taylor needs filling!” Go for it!

bonus's avatar

@Lupin Those are excellent points. Thanks for getting me to look at it differently. I have always been allergic to corporate settings but would probably be a lot wealthier if that weren’t true.

Lupin's avatar

@bonus You’re welcome. We don’t normally think of it as a learning exercise but it really is, even if you don’t like their food or the “man”.
I worked there for a year as a “closer” during college (engineering) and just kept my eyes open. I liked seeing how the machines worked. How do they get that magic consistency in the shakes? How do you keep cooking temps so precise when the loads vary so much? How do they maintain that perfect meat temp from stockyard to grill? Also you get to see how different people work under the exact same working conditions. Some kids are pleasant all the time, some are dark and miserable, some work well with customers, some were lazy. There is immediate feedback. The “slugs” get fewer hours, the hard workers get more.
If I were looking to hire someone and saw they worked at McD for a year while in school, I’d grab them. It means they passed drug tests, came to work on time every day, worked reasonably hard, did not upset customers, coworkers or managers and might have an appreciation for hard work. It’s ok to ask “Would you like fries with that?” for a year. That makes for a good life lesson: “Do well in school.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a rep of McD, nor do I own their stock. Darn! ;-)
@nuclearbob No, Your father did not pay me to write this.

dannyc's avatar

It is never a waste to experience something new and will help you. There are interesting experiences everywhere. While I took my doctorate, being from a poor family, I had two jobs, one in a restaurant, another in a food processing plant. I learned that all places have intelligent people and every day I live is worthwhile. Do what you have to to, do not be influenced of what people think.

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