After turning 16 in April of 2018, I began applying anywhere that had a help wanted sign.
Eventually, after three months of applying and waiting, I received a response from the one place I was not expecting to hear from: White Castle. I was hired in mid-July but didn’t start working until towards the end of the month. I wasn’t sure what to expect because it was my first job, but I still went in being optimistic.
After working there for a little over three months, I can assure one statement: working at a fast food restaurant might be a bit more challenging than you think.
While it may work differently at different fast food restaurants, at White Castle, there are no set positions, only titles.
The titles are simply present to show who is in charge of who. The order goes as following: at the top is General Manager, the overall boss of the restaurant, Shift Manager, who keeps the restaurant in check when the General Manager is out, and Team Member, which is the title I worked as.
As a Team Member, you could be working any position at any time, such as cashier, cook, drive thru, restocking, janitorial work (such as sweeping the floors and cleaning the tables), dish washing, and taking out the garbage.
The guys mostly worked on restocking, taking out the garbage, and drive thru, while girls mostly worked on cooking, cashier, and dish washing. Needless to say, anyone could be working any position at any time.
Personally, having to constantly change positions depending on the situation is what led to most of the stress while working.
For me, a typical shift was working the drive thru, which requires you to take orders, operate the register, and prepare drinks. Whenever I wasn’t helping a customer or preparing the drinks the customer ordered, I had to throw on a pair of disposable gloves and help with preparing the food.
If at any moment a customer came into the drive thru and was ready to order, I essentially had to drop what I was doing, making sure another Team Member could finish my job or just leave it for me to finish later, then take the order.
Feeling that I wasn’t finishing my work completely also had led to stress. Seeing my work through is important to me, so having to leave my work incomplete did not help with relieving my stress.
The most stress that I endured was when the drive thru was filling up with orders, which is when the entire drive thru is filled with cars and customers keep entering thinking it would clear through quickly. It also didn’t help that only 3-5 employees worked at once, so if one member messed up or forgot to make an order, they could back up the flow of orders even longer.
Luckily, no matter how long your shift is, employees always get a half hour break just around halfway through their shift. Also, while on break, employees can make any food or beverage they want.
Coincidentally, half way through my shifts was always when the drive thru was backed up with orders and my stress levels were high due to it. The coordination of having my break halfway through my shift while being stressed did not help me personally, as it did lead to me stress eating a lot.
If for whatever reason someone was to take up fast food for a part time job, I recommend the following tips for times of stress.
Every once in a while, take a drink of water. If there was a big wave of orders and I had finished feeling stressed out, a quick drink always calmed down a little.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I learned how to do most of my job just by watching the other employees, so it was normal to me to ask when I didn’t know how to do something, especially since it was my first job.
Never let the stress overcome you. If I didn’t know how to control mine, I would have lost it almost every shift.
No matter how rude a customer is to you, never retaliate back. When you’re helping a customer, you’re representing the entire restaurant, so responding in a negative tone will only harm you. Instead, try to help the customer. Being able to remain calm while an angry customer is going off at you will help show that not only you are mature, but it will show that the restaurant is professional.
Working at a fast food restaurant was definitely not what I was expecting it to be. While stressful and challenging at some times, working at White Castle did help build some experience for me that I can use in future resumes.
If you’re easily stressed out, I would recommend to stay away from working fast food. If not, it is a great way to help build not only your experience, but your future resume.