I work at McDonald's. I've never been embarrassed about that. I started working at a branch in South London when I was 17 years old and still in sixth form. I worked 16 hours at the weekends and squeezed all my A level work in during the week. I made great friends at that job and looked forward to my shifts there. I remember getting really angry when one of my "friends" (but really she was just a girl in our friendship group who I didn't get on with) said, "my dad wants to know what your parents think of you working at McDonald's". And my response was something like "well they're proud that I actually have a job and that I'm earning my own money". I was the only person in our group of friends who had a job - a group of friends made up of ten people. I was livid that she was getting all snooty about me working at the world's biggest fast food chain when she was still living off her parents.
I'm 19 now and McDonald's is still the only job I've ever had. When I moved up to Chester last year for university, I landed a job at the biggest McDonald's in town within a week. While at the South London branch I'd been a "customer care assistant" which basically meant chatting to customers and wiping down tables, in Chester I worked in the kitchens. I learnt how to make every single item of food on the menu, and how to make it quickly and to a high standard. I've recently been made a "customer care assistant" again so I'm getting to know the regular customers in Chester's McDonald's, while sweeping the floor a bit and filling up the ketchup pumps.
I've been with the company for two years now and so I've had a number of pay rises. McDonald's really do treat their staff well. I've never been denied a day off and I'm on the same pay as Waitrose staff now. Why would I ever want to leave this glorious company? I can request shifts whenever I want, or swap scheduled shifts for a more convenient time. It's so easy to fit it all in around my uni work and lectures, or for when I want to go back home to London for the whole summer. It's just so chilled.
You learn so much working at McDonald's. I don't know any other job where you're trained to work on tills, gain valuable transferrable customer service skills, use industrial vat fryers and grills, stock items, trained to use industrial strength cleaning products and which chemicals to mix with which others, how to get a toilet looking sparkling clean in 30 seconds, take orders like a waitress and bring food over like a waitress (all with no tips!), and so so so much more.
People who've worked in both fast food and in shops say that working in McDonald's uses a much greater range of skills than other jobs in retail. It's such a fast paced, high intensity environment to work in but it's also so rewarding. I wish that McDonald's workers didn't have a reputation as being stupid and worthless because we're not. A lot of us are students, working to buy textbooks and our weekly food shops, while some are parents who need money to pay rent and provide for their children. It's a job, and a fairly decent one at that. Don't knock it.