On McDonald's Menu: Burger, Fries and a Career

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Philip Birden loves his "McJob." He does everything from working at the cash register to making hash browns at a McDonald's in Chicago. And he has dreams of turning this job into much, much more.

"Your teachers tell you that at the beginning of time -- I remember being in eighth grade -- 'You don't want to work at McDonald's,'" the 20-year-old said. "But when you work here, you'll have a different feeling about working at McDonald's."

This month, McDonald's Corp. hopes to find thousands more like Birden. The company wants to fill 50,000 jobs in one day -- so if you like to smile, enjoy working with customers and are looking for a career, the company wants you to apply April 19.

Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA, said that the move signaled the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company is in good shape and that officials were confident it would meet the hiring number.

"Franchisees and company-owned restaurants are geared up for this," Fields said. "We're excited about the future. We want to invest in our people. We have a great opportunity to do, unlike anyone else."

She said the company also was redefining the term "McJob," which may not be so easy because the term has become a sort of dirty word implying low wages and dead ends. To change that perception, McDonald's has launched a massive campaign in popular magazines and even on YouTube.

Fields said that of the 2,600 franchisees, 50 percent had started as restaurant workers, and 30 percent of the company's executive level once were part of store crews.

"A job at McDonald's is whatever somebody makes it to be," she said. "We've got a lot of different opportunities available. It depends on what it is they're looking for."

From McDonald's Fry Cooker to President

Seeking part-time work that offered flexible hours, Fields started at the company as a French fry cooker 33 years ago in Dayton, Ohio. After a year of making French fries, she was offered a management opportunity.

"My story is like so many others. You start in McDonald's and it really is a fun job. I had fun every day I went to work," she said. "It led to promotions and opportunities, so here I am today."

If the company reaches its hiring goal of 50,000 -- a nearly 7 percent increase in staff -- it will mean about four new employees per restaurant. Fields said the company's latest initiative would leave a lasting impact on communities across the U.S. A new study estimates that those added workers will pump more than $1 billion into the economy.

The jobs primarily are in the restaurants and cover a variety of positions. The company welcomed senior citizens, those looking for part-time work and students, Fields said. The flexible hours option allows people to work shifts from three hours a day to a full day.

Fields said the fast-food chain encourages employee development, sending workers to classes and offering up to 50 college credits.

"If you look at our 650,000 McDonald's employees in the United States ... you'll see that the career opportunities are limitless -- and that's the definition we need to make sure that people really understand," she said.

McDonald's Low Turnover Rate

Fields said the company had a very low turnover rate at the crew level -- less than 60 percent last year -- from an industry standpoint.

"The notion that a McJob doesn't have a career opportunity with it is just not true," she said. "My story is not unique. It's very similar across the board [with other McDonald's workers]."

People can apply online or in person. McDonald's will have employees conducting interviews and accepting applications April 19.