Where You Want To Be: Shadow a Mentor for a Day, Learn a Lesson for Life

March 20, 2019

Five ambitious McDonald’s restaurant employees were paired with mentors in their desired fields for once-in-a-lifetime career shadow day experiences in cities across the nation

McDonald’s recently created its first-ever career advising campaign for employees that began with a simple question, “Where do you want to be?” Over the past two months, five ambitious McDonald’s restaurant employees – William "Billy" Fagerstrom, Kaila Perkins, Ayana Lea, Taylor Porter and Clare Fagunleka – have been living out that question through career shadow day experiences with mentors – some of whom are McDonald’s restaurant alumni – in their desired career fields of interest.

For Billy, where he wants to be is working in technology. Billy traveled from Michigan to New York City to meet James Altucher – an entrepreneur and angel investor who started his career in technology – and learn about his career path in hopes he may be able to follow in his footsteps. During his shadow day, James not only talked to his career journey but also showed Billy what it takes to run a business. He invited Billy to sit in on meetings with other entrepreneurs in the New York City area. Throughout the meetings, Billy got to listen in on how each of these people conduct their work and how technology is integrated into their daily activities. He also learned about their individual journeys, challenges and how the skills that Billy is learning at his McDonald’s restaurant play a role in their businesses every day. James concluded his shadow day with this advice: always think of other people’s agenda before you think about your own, and then consider, “how can you make their lives easier?” Billy’s shadow day helped him realize the great foundation he’s established at his McDonald’s and the skills he’s learning every day in the restaurant really can take him anywhere.

For Kaila, where she wants to be is pursuing a career in social media and content creation. She is currently in school and an Archways to Opportunity participant. She traveled from Michigan to Los Angeles to meet her mentor and digital content creator, Tyler Oakley. Like Kaila, Tyler had his very first job as a crew member at his local McDonald’s. Tyler shared with Kaila that the skills he learned at his McDonald’s are integral to the work he does every day – working on a team and understanding what each person contributes to create something bigger than themselves. During her shadow day, Kaila met with Tyler to learn the strategy, work and thought that goes into being a content creator. She sat in on a podcast recording, where he discussed soft skills, jobs and the importance of taking risks, and a brand strategy meeting for Tyler’s YouTube channel. By meeting Tyler, who showed her how the skills she is learning at her McDonald’s can be an asset to any team, Kaila gained confidence to pursue her career goals.

For Ayana, where she wants to be is working in the music industry. She traveled from North Carolina to Chicago to learn what it takes to get there from award-winning music producer Kuk Harrell, a McDonald’s restaurant alum who spent two years as a crew member and another three as a swing manager. Kuk shared with Ayana that he tells people he’s really in the customer service business, a skill he honed through his work at his local McDonald’s, and that he feels that skill alone sets him apart from other producers. “When I’m in the studio with artists, I’m there to serve them,” says Kuk. During her shadow day, Ayana met with Kuk to learn the methodology and strategy that goes into being a vocal producer. She was excited to join him in the studio, where she participated in a recording session with him and his daughter, Cody, a trained vocalist. She also got the chance to meet Kuk’s former general manager at the flagship McDonald’s restaurant in Chicago where they talked through the importance of how soft skills learned at your first job translate to future career opportunities. Ayana found her day with Kuk so inspiring, she now feels like pursuing her passion is truly within her reach.

For Taylor, where she wants to be is an Owner/Operator of her own McDonald’s franchise. She is a current Archways to Opportunity participant and having already worked for McDonald’s franchisee Dennis Cha, who owns and operates five McDonald’s restaurants, for the past six years, she’s well on her way. During her shadow day, she worked alongside Dennis to understand the work that goes into being an Owner/Operator. She joined him at one of his newly remodeled locations, outside of Chicago, to learn what he looks for when he visits his restaurants. Taylor attended Dennis’ weekly general manager meeting where hot priorities and restaurant goals were discussed. She also participated in a meeting with a local non-profit Dennis works closely with to see how Owner/Operators like Dennis are involved in their communities. Through her shadow day, Taylor was able to experience first-hand how the skills she’s learning now – like teamwork, customer service and responsibility – will serve her well when she becomes an Owner/Operator someday. Taylor is taking an immediate step toward reaching that goal this quarter when she begins a new role within McDonald’s working in the field as an Operations Associate.

For Clare, where she wants to be is in the healthcare field as a nurse. She is a current Archways to Opportunity participant who is in her second year of nursing school. She traveled from Florida to Kansas City to meet board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Meena Singh, for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to work in the healthcare field. When Clare arrived at the medical office, Dr. Singh walked her through the front-of-house responsibilities including book keeping, scheduling and the importance of customer service with patient retention. Clare joined Dr. Singh for patient appointments to receive a better understanding of how essential teamwork is in the healthcare field and she got to interact with the patients throughout the appointments. It was especially helpful for Clare, a second-year nursing student, to hear from Dr. Singh about her journey through medical school and get advice for what it takes to pursue a career in healthcare. As a mentor, Dr. Singh encouraged Clare to seek advice from those who believe in her. Thanks to her shadow day experience, Clare has a better understanding of how the tools and resources she is receiving through her job at her local McDonalds are great assets in her career journey.

We thank each of these restaurant employees and mentors for their participation in the “Where You Want To Be” campaign and for demonstrating what’s possible when you put your heart and soul into something you love to do – whether that’s at McDonald’s or beyond.

To learn more about how McDonald’s supports restaurant employees, please visit: McDonalds.com/People.