The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

Fast food jobs offer more than a good paycheck

Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

At 14 years old, Chick-fil-A hired me as a crew member. With a new uniform, badge and a few weeks of training, I hopped behind the register and began taking orders.

After nearly three years, I quit Chick-fil-A to find a new job at Chipotle. After years of bagging sandwiches and preparing milkshakes, I found myself rolling burritos, grilling chicken and strenuously sweeping every bit of rice that customers scattered across the floor.

When I graduated high school, I felt confident in my ability to balance a job in fast-food alongside handling my studies and extracurricular activities.

Turns out, the commitment proved far more difficult than I expected. However, despite its challenges, working a fast-food job in college provided valuable experiences and skills that I will utilize in every profession I pursue.

Working a fast-food job is no easy commitment. After powering through five days of assignments, meetings and classes, I looked forward to a weekend packed with 18 hours of work, including closing and opening shifts.

Getting a 30-second breather, meeting a friendly customer or completing a closing shift by midnight were experiences that employees seldom had.

Each task requires physical strength, as employees race around the store with ice-buckets, heavy boxes or trash bags the size of boulders.

Managers expected employees to maintain a positive and friendly attitude, even when sweating from the grill’s fiery heat or dealing with customers who threw toddler-like tantrums (which happened on a regular occurrence).

To top it all, fast-food workers hardly receive the respect their job should merit, whether in the wages they receive or the stigma surrounding the profession — a disrespect far more often directed toward older employees rather than younger.

This list hardly scratches the surface of the struggles that fast-food employees experience, but it should not dissuade someone from pursuing this profession entirely.

While the difficulties of working in fast-food can be downplayed, the benefits are just as often — if not entirely — ignored.

There’s nothing pleasant about putting on gloves and cleaning out grimy counters, tables and bathrooms.

There’s nothing pleasant about leaving a shift at 12:30 a.m., knowing that classes begin bright and early the next day.

And yes, it was never a surprise to see an employee untie their apron and call it quits in the middle of their shift. Job hoppers trickled in for a few weeks, only to clock out one shift and never return.

For the employee who pressed onward, however, these jobs offer a wealth of unexpected benefits.

Working in fast-food taught me how to work under high-pressure situations, collaborate with co-workers to ensure a steady workflow, be adaptable while constantly transitioning from position to position, respect clients whether or not they offer the same courtesy, accept when mistakes happen and learn how to recover, handle transactions, show strong attention to detail to ensure I make orders correctly and so much more.

Additionally, the job also offers fulfilling moments: once in a while, a worker can pause from completing their monotonous tasks, look over the counter and notice how their meal preparation, their customer service, their clean environment enabled customers to gather with their loved ones to enjoy a meal together.

In my experience, I haven’t found a single class, internship or job where the skills I gained at Chipotle haven’t enabled me to contribute and succeed more.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Owen Chesemore, Opinions Editor

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *