3 Life Lessons I Learned at McDonald’s

We’ve all had crappy jobs we wish we could forget. Maybe you have one now. Maybe you think your job is beneath you or embarassing. If you have a job you find less than thrilling, keep in mind that it’s only temporary. A stepping stone to something better.

I worked  at McDonald’s several years ago while I was “between jobs”. It was a learning experience I’ll never forget. I was only there for 2 weeks before I left for another job but I learned a lot. Here are a few things I learned that you may find useful.

1- Minimum wage is better than maximum nothing

Having a little money coming in is better than being unemployed. It’s always interesting to hear about people holding out for “better jobs”. They go for months without work because they’re being offered $25 an hour instead of $3o.

When you have bills to pay and a family to feed, it’s good to be able to at least buy a few groceries. Some people don’t seem to grasp this concept.

Don’t be one of them.

If you’re unemployed, do whatever it takes to bring money in. Legally. This gives you dignity and keeps you active.

Like the saying goes, it’s easier to get a job when you already have one. When people find out you haven’t worked in a year or more, they start to wonder what’s wrong with you.

2- Systems make your life easier

Everybody knows that McDonald’s has the best operating systems. It’s the only way to run a massive business with a largely unmotivated, unskilled, young workforce with high turnover. There’s a time for spontaneity and there’s a time for routine. Some things should be made routine.

Who wants to stop and think up a new way to make fries every 30 seconds anyway?

You’ve got to set up systems in your life. Unemployed? Set up a real job hunting system. Plan your day out the night before. Wake up early the at the same time every day. Get dressed, as if you already have a job, and work your plan. Put in eight hours targeting the companies you’re interested in. Keep track of phone calls, interviews and conversations. Follow up on leads by sticking to a schedule.

This idea of using systems will improve your life. Doing things in a certain order and a certain way frees your brain to work on creative ideas instead of busywork.

3- There’s always a way to stand out

Excellence matters. It matters everyday and everywhere. If you strive for excellence constantly, people will notice. Working all the time you work and having a good attitude will take you a long way.

Even in a system like McDonald’s, superstar individuals will stand out. Everyone follows the same procedures but there will always be differences in execution and results.

Don’t worry about losing your individuality because you have to wear a uniform or work according to a set procedure. The key is really your attitude. Do your best work, the best way you know how and you’ll shine.

Make the most of your situation

Try hard to see the positives in your job where you are right now. The only way to move to bigger place is to make yourself too big for the place you are now. Give your best and look for the lessons that you can learn. Keep your head up and keep moving forward.



  1. Very true. Also, while working at a menial job you can potentially meet an employee or the owner of a better job. So while you’re doing your best at the job you don’t enjoy, someone may see your work ethic and offer you something better.

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