McDonald's offers more than 'McJobs,' says local owner

It's an old joke, in some circles, telling some hapless, struggling grad student they are destined to serve fries at McDonald's.

Alan Gozda has heard it. For him, however, the old joke is hardly a threat. He considers McDonald's as an opportunity, and he hopes more people will see the fast-food chain not as the end of a line, but the beginning.

Gozda started working at McDonald's as a teen. Today, he owns eight McDonald's restaurants in Kamloops and Merritt, employing 350 people. And on Tuesday, as part of a North America-wide corporate hiring campaign, he held a job fair looking for even more workers.

"We are about 325 people right now, we staff up to about 350 people for the summer months," he said.

This is the fist time McDonald's has had a job fair, Traditionally, Gozda has done what employers always do - place ads in the paper or on the Internet, or rely on walk-in jobseekers or staff who bring in friends. The job fair was part of an international campaign to hire 50,000 workers across Canada and the U.S.

Gozda said he wants to attract mature workers, those 25 and older, who are able to work day shifts. It has never been a problem for him finding part-time evening, weekend and shift workers, he said, noting the teens on his crews always bring in friends who want work as well.

"We get plenty of applications from teens all the time. Everybody wants to work with their friends, and they have fun working here," he said.

But part-time workers only fill about 60 per cent of the shifts. Day shifts, when students are in school, require a different kind of worker.

Ideally, Gozda said he wants to hire people who are looking for more than just a job. There are significant career opportunities at McDonald's and excellent potential to make good money in management. Almost all managers at McDonald's started first as kitchen crew.

"One of my managers is married with kids and has a very comfortable life. He has been with us for 20 years. I have another manager who has been with us for 35 years. I started here 35 years ago.

"How many people out there have the success and livelihood today that (the three of us) have at McDonald's?"

He noted a junior manager at McDonald's will earn about $32,000 a year- and wages go up from there.

Not everyone who starts in the kitchen will advance, but the potential is there for anyone who works at it and sets a goal to move forward through the corporate chain, he added.

"I got promoted for doing my job," Gozda said.

A news release issued by the McDonald's corporate office said the chain is looking to change the perception that the food chain offers "McJobs" - a term defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a low-paid job with few prospects, typically one taken by an overqualified person."

The company says it teaches important skills such as teamwork, time management, customer service and communication.

"For a year or a career, a McDonald's job can help set employees up for success, said Len Jilliard, McDonald's Canada's chief people officer. He, too, started with McDonald's 40 years ago as a crew person.

McDonald's Canada was recognized as a top-five employer for the ninth time - the only fast food restaurant to earn the honour.

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