What I Learned Working in Fast Food

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that fast food is a major industry in the United States. Burgers and fries are what immediately come to mind, but fast food can also include things that don’t fit the stereotypical image of being deep-fried and greasy: think Wendy’s salads and baked potatoes. After working in a traditional burger and fries restaurant for the last three consecutive summers, I’ve learned a thing or two from my experiences.

1) Perspective is important.

Let’s be real here for a second: fast food is just not that serious. A super long line or an incorrectly made order can cause chaos and bring on some anxiety, so it’s important to pause every once in a while and take a deep breath. Consider the fact that you are not a brain surgeon. It is very unlikely that anyone will suffer greatly if you make a mistake (with the exception of food allergies - always be very serious about food allergies!!). I believe in having a good work ethic in all things, but it’s important to know when you’ve done all that you can do. Sometimes you just have to deal with the circumstances presented to you.

2) People aren’t always going to be nice.

Working in fast food definitely leads to the development of a thicker skin! Many customers are extremely pleasant and forgiving when something goes wrong, but others are not so considerate of your feelings. Even if you don’t do anything wrong, customers (and even co-workers) will occasionally be in a bad mood and take it out on you. Remembering that it’s not an attack on you personally is the key to maintaining your positive customer service personality.

3) Your uniform might look silly or unflattering, but it actually makes your life easier.

Don’t get me wrong, I hated my uniform. When you’re only 5’1”, the smallest available size is generally still too large/long. However, as someone who now has to dress for my job in a library, I find myself worrying about whether my outfits are appropriate or professional enough. Having a uniform definitely minimizes the stress surrounding my preparation for work, and it saves a lot of time, too!​

4) Your job is going to bring you out of your shell.

It might be an uncomfortable experience at first, but you’ll become much less shy over the course of your employment. Having to work face to face with both customers and coworkers all day, every day can be exhausting, especially if you’re introverted. Eventually, though, it will become more natural to interact with all kinds of people. Greeting a customer who has just walked through the door will go from being a little scary to being second nature in no time.

5) You really ARE gaining valuable experience

Working a minimum wage job as a cook or a cashier can feel like a waste of your time or abilities. Just remember that your job does fall in the realm of customer service, and having experience in customer service is important for almost every job in existence. Customer service experience is really another way of saying that you’ve developed good social skills—being friendly and welcoming to customers, as well as knowing the best way to help them. Every hour that you spend working is another hour that prepares you for future careers.​Interactions in fast food are definitely unique. Whether you’re a customer or an employee, remember to evaluate your perspective and appreciate your experience for what it is. You never know where the skills you gain from it might take you!

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