Student Voice


November 30, 2023




Dirty, undignified first jobs proliferate life lessons, capability

February 17, 2012

A wise teacher once told me that every teenager needs to experience a “bottom of the totem pole” first job. From working at a grocery store, to the fast food industry, golf ball retriever, lifeguard, or possibly a waitress or waiter, most of us have experienced a not-so-fun first job.

For some people that is the actual job that they need to make their living off of especially with the economy now, but kids who finally need to experience the work world mostly occupy these kinds of jobs. You all know the feeling of turning 16 and wanting to go out on your own, but that costs money. Mom and dad might just finally cut the strings. These are often the grunt jobs that no one else wants. These jobs often come with cleaning toilets, dealing with angry customers and grumpy bosses.

I still remember my first day at McDonald’s over three years ago now. I wanted to save up money and buy my own car and so that summer I applied everywhere I could. McDonald’s called me right away and I thought to myself, this is going to be easy. Within four hours of my first shift, I had angry customers that did not like how slow I was. I watched in fear as a kid spilled his soda everywhere and I heard the words that no 16-year-old kid or anyone for that matter wants to hear: “Ryan there’s a problem in the men’s bathroom you might want gloves for this one.”

I realized right away that working at McDonalds was not going to be a picnic. The managers expected fast service with a friendly smile all while keeping the restaurant running smoothly and staying clean. During a rush I started to feel like my head was spinning in 100 different directions, but it is always an awesome feeling after a rush because it goes from complete to madness to suddenly nothing.

Over three years later I still work at McDonalds whenever I go home and sometimes I start to worry that I will be working there forever! I love my co-workers and all the customers know who I am.

Every morning the same senior citizens come in and get their morning coffees. They chitchat with us workers and joke around. Our smiles have just as much to do with them making us a part of their everyday lives as the coffee does. It has been a great experience.

Now that I look back on what my teacher told me, I agree that everyone needs to experience a first job that they necessarily do not like. It gives a good life lesson and it sure made me thankful for everything I have. It showed me that I definitely wanted to go to college so I did not end up staying there forever and it prepared me for when I go out into the work field someday.

I learned teamwork, dedication and staying positive no matter how rough things seem to get. I will forever carry the experience that I gained at McDonald’s with me as I go forward in life.

Ryan Tibbitts is a freshman majoring in journalism. He loves all sports but obsesses over his Packers.