With so many misconceptions and negative stereotypes, working in fast food as a student isn’t always painted in the best light.
For me, working in fast food was my first job and so, for a long time, I had nothing to compare it to.
Although I appreciate that everyone’s experiences are different (don’t get me wrong, I have some GRIM stories from working in fast food), the fundamentals of working in the industry are similar, and have suited me for my needs.
As it was my first job, I had absolutely no experience on my CV apart from a few GCSE results. All I had to do was a little jiggery pokery with my words, et voilà! Suddenly, it looked like I’d gained some world-class skills from my Year 6 first aid course. Don’t judge, we’ve definitely all done it.
However, with a large student population on the staff, fast food chains are understanding of this. They primarily want to see how flexible you are, and what your work ethic is like.
The interview was, again, relatively straightforward. There were a few red herring questions like ‘If you were a brand, what brand would you be and why?’ Luckily, I’d had a check of Glassdoor before the interview, and I was able to pre-empt some of this.
In the fast food company that I worked for, there was a rigorous training process. Used to employing young people, there was a clear structure with lots of e-learning and even more hands-on training. Although getting to grips with potentially dangerous equipment and a new group of colleagues/friends was overwhelming at times, I never felt unsupported.
Now, after working there for five years, I have been presented with multiple opportunities to further my career through management opportunities.
Although I never chose to pursue this, it is always good to know that the opportunity is there should I ever want to.
Working around university/student life/exams
Despite the misconceptions of working in fast food, I can’t fault my company’s commitment to my education. The flexibility has been perfect to fit around my changing timetables, and there is enough staff to be able to cover me at short notice to revise.
Now for the bit that everyone wants to know: the pay! The store that I have worked in is company-owned (I know that this will vary in every place of work), and so I have been paid well for my age. There are annual ‘performance reviews’ which result in a pay rise if I have proven myself, and this acts as an incentive to better myself and my work.
Misconceptions about working in fast food
I won’t go into this too much, but there are countless misconceptions about working in fast food. Namely, that it’s just ‘burger flipping’, or that if you work in fast food you are ‘too thick to get a job’. Of the 200 plus staff members that I have worked with, I’d estimate that at least half of those were at university. I’ve worked with Masters’ students, PhD students, NHS staff and others.
It’s not an easy job, and can be incredibly stressful at times, but it is my belief that a job is what you make it.
As a student, from a financial perspective and a study perspective, I can find very few reasons to fault working in fast food. After all, it’s all money, right?