Lessons learned from my McDonald’s career

My career at McDonald’s was a long one with many twists and turns.


I began working for McDonald’s when I was 16 years old after a friend learned that they were paying ten cents over minimum wage ($4.65). We interviewed at the store in Milford, MA and were hired on the spot.

Remarkably, I never asked my parents if I could get a job and never informed them that I was applying for the position.

When I was 17 years old and still in high school, I was promoted to manager. I continued working as a manager, working in company-owned stores in Milford, Norwood, Brockton, Hanson, and Bourne, until I was fired at the age of 22 when a deposit went missing and the police arrested me despite the company’s assurances that I was not responsible for the loss.

“We don’t believe that you took the money, but the police do, so we have no choice but to terminate our relationship with you.”

Three months later I was hired by the owner of a franchise in a second Brockton location to manage his store while awaiting trial. I would work in that store for almost two years as my second full time job while attempting to pay mounting legal fees for my upcoming court case.

It was during this time that I was robbed at gunpoint while closing the store.

When I moved to Connecticut at the age of 25, I left McDonald’s for a year before returning to the company for its flexible schedule in order to put myself through college. I managed a store in Hartford, CT for five years while I earned degrees from Manchester Community College, Trinity College and Saint Joseph’s University. I left the company for good when I was hired to teach elementary school upon graduation.

In all, I worked for McDonald’s for about twelve years of my life, almost all that time as a manager. I worked an enormously diverse group of people in those dozen years, including some of the most impressive people who I have ever met in my life.

I also learned many life lessons while working for McDonald’s, and I suspect that much of the success I enjoy today was in part the result of my time with the company.

These lessons include:

  • Develop systematized routines that eliminate needless steps in order to maximize efficiency. Much of my life is predicated on this belief and the systems that I have constructed for myself. 
  • Clean as you go. Never allow mess or disorganization to accumulate.
  • Treating everyone on a team as an equal, regardless of title or age, is  guaranteed to increase productivity and morale.
  • Making a meaningful personal connection with every member of a team will result in an army of loyal allies.
  • Personal pride can be derived from almost any task. Challenge yourself to be the best at everything you do, regardless of its importance. 
  • Your success is almost always predicated on the success of others.  
  • Never underestimate the value of a person in desperate need of a job, regardless of their lack of skill level or ability to speak English.
  • Always be grateful to have a job.