Working and Maintaining Positive Life Goals



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Finding work to occupy a teenager’s free time is essential for their growth and goes a long way in shaping their values and priorities. Teenagers often find part time jobs while in high school in order to learn, earn and be productive. It is fair to say that the exposure to work life at early age has more advantages than disadvantages in supporting the growth of responsible citizens with values imparted right from their teenage years onwards.

The value of work at McDonald’s may not be prestigious but is good enough for teenagers who cannot seek full time employment. The job is good for various reasons including the fact that the teenager assists the parents in these tough economic times. The teens being left to supervise their fellow teens is a way of imparting leadership skills at an early age. It does not mean that the absence of role models is an entirely good thing because teenagers need constant guidance. In the process of working without supervision from adults, teens learn to follow orders on their own and respect their bosses regardless of their age differences (Etzioni 317). The issue of teens dropping out of school in order to keep working cannot be blamed on the fast food chain jobs. The reason this is not the fault of these workplaces is that a teen brought up with the right values knows the importance of education as well as work. They will learn how to strike a balance between work and school on their own and with a little help from the parents (Etzioni 318). The spending of this money on the latest trends should not be a problem because the role models should have done something to ensure that only decent trends make it to the market. When teenagers spend the money they earn in keeping themselves up to date with the world trends, they should be supported and guided and not condemned without reason. This further goes to show that the trends are in no way related to the teens working at a McDonald’s restaurant (Etzioni 318). A former McDonald’s employee was positive about the job. He insists that the job taught him responsibility and that beyond the sneers that meet McDonald’s workers, the shifts are excellent  (Parkinson). From a student’s perspective, the shifts make it easy to manage school work while at the same time earning some money on the side.

The money that teenagers earn at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant is not much but is substantial. Etzioni finds that most of the teenagers waste their money trying to build themselves a status. Once again, this kind of behavior cannot be pinned on the type of job offered at a McDonald’s food restaurant. It is not a problem as some of the teens who work save the money for their college fees, buy a car, and many other good things, while some waste it on irrelevant undertakings like liquor and hard drugs (Etzioni 318). What happens is that the teens who waste their money are trying to compensate for something else that is in no way related to the kind of job they hold. Being a sociologist, Etzioni should have known that these types behavior could be a result of low self-esteem and any money they get, is used trying to do things to things that help them fit in what they feel is their status of choice. This is attributed to the confidence they have been brought up with and has nothing to do with the kind of job they hold (Etzioni 318). Teens spending money on what is trendy without having to rely on their parents makes them have better confidence in themselves and to some extent makes them more responsible and reliable (Etzioni 318). One teenager wrote an article about her experience at McDonald’s as a worker, she learnt expensive life lessons that only being stuck at a McDonald’s restaurant would offer, humility and empathy  (Norquay).

Etzioni has some interesting opinions about working at McDonald’s for teenagers before they can join college. He argues that the teens do not get a chance to express their creativity and learn important skills with the jobs offered at McDonald’s. He argues that teens do not learn discipline, patience, and other necessary hacks of being in business by being employed at a McDonald’s food restaurant (Etzioni 316). He further argues that the job encourages the teens to live low lives as they drop out of school and gives them the notion that they can only get low paying jobs compared to those who have graduated and can earn better wages. This means that the poverty levels remain present in the lives of the teenagers way past their teenage years (Etzioni 317). The lack of role models in form of older and experienced supervisors at these work stations leaves the teenagers without ambition to be better. They also lose out on learning points where they would acquire skills on ethics and proper work etiquette (Etzioni 318). The teenagers are also exposed to a life of luxuries without guidance and limits because they do not depend on their parents and, therefore, cannot be controlled or guided.

Etzioni’s essay reminds me of a job that is really not very different from the McDonald’s food restaurants. I worked at a shoes store and the shifts were long and the supervision was only done by surveillance cameras placed at random around the store. The only monitoring mechanism was the volume of sales. He would probably find it similar to the McDonald’s job. In the real sense however, the job was good and I got to buy myself a car with the savings while my colleagues paid their college fees. 

In conclusion, the type of job one does before college and how it affects their lives is fully dependent on the individual and their upbringing. Etzioni’s essay focusses only on the negatives of the job whereas, the problems arising in the teenagers working the job have underlying issues like low self-esteem, poverty, and absentee parents. They deal with their problems and the money they earn only but these are not the causes of their issues.

Works Cited

Etzioni, Amitai. “Working at McDonald’s.” Etzioni, Amitai. Reading Critically, Writing Well. 2011. 316-319.

Norquay, Kate. “What I learnt from Four years working at McDonalds.” 28 November 2015. Medium. 21 October 2016.

Parkinson, Justin. “What’s it really like to work at McDonald’s.” 15 April 2015. BBC NEWS. 21 October 2015.

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