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Six Benefits of a Bottom-Rung Job

What do Jay Leno, Sharon Stone, Jeff Bezos, Carl Lewis, and Pink have in common? They’re all successes in their fields—and they’re among the estimated 10% of Americans who have worked at McDonald’s.

Most careerists think of McDonald’s as a job for kids. Still, some of those kids stick it out—and are rewarded with fast-track promotions and dream-come-true careers. In fact, a full three out of four mid- to senior-level corporate managers at McDonald’s started out as crew members. Likewise, the organization has created more millionaires than any other company in America—especially among women and minorities.

So before you turn your nose up at work that feels “beneath” you, consider how a bottom-rung job can help boost your career. Here are six key benefits:
  1. Teaches you the ropes. Be curious, ask questions, and offer suggestions. You’ll wind up learning more about business than you would in most MBA classes.
  2. Hones your work style. Always work hard—and never rest on your laurels. Traits such as this will serve you well down the road as an executive or entrepreneur.
  3. Refines relationship skills. Now is the time to perfect your people skills. “Practice” listening more than talking, resolving conflicts, and rolling with the punches.
  4. Creates opportunities. Choose wisely and you can move up the ranks quickly. Look for a company that, like McDonald’s, has a proven track record of aggressive talent management and exceptional career velocity.
  5. Forms networks. Take care with your work relationships—higher-ups, peers, and subordinates. You’ll acquire career champions that will last a lifetime.
  6. Reinforces humility. There is no upside to unemployment. Learn to appreciate the goodness of work itself and what every job can teach you.