Turning “Do you want fries with that?” into an Internship

Many of our high school and community college students work part-time. And many work in the fast food industry. We often talk to students about their experiences and find that they do not see the value in the work they do. They say they are only working for money to pay for college, help out their families or do things with their friends. This work experience, while good in preparing students in the discipline of work, can be much more valuable. Whether the school has a formal internship program or internships are found by individual students so their experience can be put on their resumes, turning a student’s part time job into a quality internship experience will prepare him for the future in a career and higher education.

Making that fast food job a quality internship experience.

Before developing a student’s job as an internship speak with his manager. Assure the manager that any activities the student is asked to do will not interfere with his job task or time. The school needs the support of the manager for the student to succeed and most mangers want to help their workers, especially students, to grow. When you have designed the intern’s learning plan share it with the manager and ask if there is anything he would like to add.

Internship Learning Plan goals and activities

1. Understand the business model: Some fast food businesses are franchises. Others may be individually or family owned and others by a larger corporation. Have the student research the business models using the internet and write a report on them focusing on the model of the business in which he is working.
2. Learn about the Manager’s background: Interview the manger to learn about his experience and skills. Some students are surprised about the skills needed to manage a business. Write a profile of the manager.
3. Understand the training needed for employees: The student will have had some training to do his job but may not understand the training that is needed for other jobs. Have the student review the training material of the company and sit in or participate in any training of new employees. Have the student identify anything that could be added to the training.
4. Understand the customer experience: Fast food depends on fast delivery of product. Have the student do a flow-chart of the customer experience. Also have him to a flow-chart of the logistics from ordering raw product to customer delivery.
5. Understand the challenges of staffing: Have the student develop a staffing plan for one week and review it with the manager. If the business relies on shift workers or all-night workers have the student research the challenges of shift working.
6. Understand the products sold: Have the student list all the food products sold and identify which he thinks are the best sellers and review with his manager to see if he is correct. Have the student link high selling products to location and demographics of the area—families, teenagers, older people so that he sees how product decisions are made.
7. Build critical competencies: Students who work part-time will be familiar with working as a team, customer service and focus on achievement in the job. However, dlink login they need to know how to show what they have learned on their resume and in future interviews and will need the help of the teacher to put their experience into words. (see Internship Quest Seminar Manual for specific ideas)
8. Instead of keeping a journal (the staple of internships) have the student write a series of blogs about his activities and learning and share with his classmates. Remember, we want the student to see the benefit of his work and learning experience and move from any negative feelings he may have about the fast food industry.

It’s not what you did but what you learned

It is not the internship placement or job a student has had that is important to a college and a future employer but what the student learned from his experience. Turning a routine, repetitive job into a quality internship will help the student use his experience and learning to attain his goals.

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