From Crew to Corporate | A McDonald’s Employee Success Story

September 08, 2022

She worked her way through college and law school while managing a McDonald’s. Now she’s a lawyer for the corporation. 

McDonald’s lawyer Natalie Stephenson has had ties to McDonald's since she was a kid.

Born and raised in New York City, she was impressed by the brand as she saw the business through the eyes of a family friend who owned multiple McDonald's across New York City. 

At 15, her family moved to Philadelphia, then a few years later, she was off to Spelman College, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Natalie takes pride in the fact she attended an HBCU and believes it's more than just a school.  

"It's a time for you to really learn about yourself and have pride in who you are as a person and as a people; it really does change the way you think about yourself and what you can achieve."

Being a full-time Manager and a full-time student  

In the second half of Natalie's freshman year at Spelman, she began working at the McDonald's on Peachtree Street in Atlanta as a full-time manager and did so all the way up to her senior year. Working as a Manager and being a full-time student meant Natalie didn’t have much free time, but she said she would be "looking at a lot more debt" if it wasn't for her role at McDonald's. "It taught me how to relate to people and address difficult situations." 

During her time, she also learned the value of work ethic from her Owners/Operators. "They would see potential that people didn’t even see in themselves. It was inspiring and I've tried to take that lesson forward in life," she says. 

While managing the McDonald’s restaurant, Natalie realized crew members were in all phases and stages of life and coming from a diversity of backgrounds "I saw my time in the restaurant as an opportunity to provide a positive work environment and to help people grow," she says.   


Natalie's path to a Legal Career at McDonald’s

After college, Natalie went on to law school and she continued to work at McDonald’s for the first year.  Natalie completed her law degree and went on to practice Criminal and Family Law in North Carolina. In 2004 Natalie and her husband decided that she would stay home during her four children's early years.

She later started working part-time for a financial services firm and eventually joined full-time once her children became older. During her time at the firm, she also became a certified compliance professional.  

From there, the opportunity at McDonald's started to present itself when she connected with a friend who mentioned the position opening. "I'm new to this area of law, but I love learning new things," she says. 

We're so proud to have Natalie back under the arches, but she said it best "McDonald's felt familiar, like home, and it's kind of like everything that I've done in my life has come full circle."  

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