John graduated with a degree in chemistry and now manages a fast food restaurant
I've been working in the fast food industry since my second year at university. It's now five years since I graduated with a degree in chemistry. I think the job chose me more than I deliberately set out to work in this field.
Originally, I worked for a big name high street burger chain, but then a friend told me about a place where he worked and it was nearer my house at the time, so easier to get home late at night after work.
I now manage one restaurant and oversee two others for a small chain of franchised fast food outlets across northwest England - you could say that I was an area manager. I suppose that it's become a way of life despite the fact that the hours are long. At some point I'd like to run my own stores and you can make money if you pick the right places. Franchising is probably the best way to do this as it gives you a head start, but you need experience of doing the job to be able to make a success of this.
There are no graduate schemes in the company I work for, though I do have friends who've joined big fast food chains that have such schemes. I don't recall going though any competitive selection processes and moved on from front end dealing with customers to assistant store manager and store manager without any formal interview. I've got to know the owner of the business well and he involves me and another one of his managers in a lot of planning and financial decisions now.
Reliability, an ability to manage staff and keep customers happy are really important in this job. I now do a lot of recruitment for staff myself and so I'm very aware of what you need to do well in this job. To be a successful manager you also need boundless amounts of energy and an ability to create a fun, team atmosphere. A manager has to be financially aware, keep an eye on what competitors are doing and always consider legal requirements, such as health and safety and food hygiene.
My university friends sometimes say that I've wasted my education and certainly I don't really use my subject knowledge. I do need to use my brain to do this job, you need a lot of common sense as anything can happen on a busy night and losing trade at a weekend through lack of staff or supplies is a major loss to the business. I also feel part of the community that I now work in and that's really important to me.
I enjoy meeting lots of people and having a really strong team of people to work with. The hours can affect your social life and even when I'm not in work I could be called out if there's a problem. Late night work often brings its fair share of difficult customers but I've got to know how to deal with the regular trouble makers.
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