This week our crop of summer interns returns to school, and I've tried to give the intern I was responsible for a good experience, as my mentors gave me many years ago. This was a pretty realistic workplace experience for an engineer and he handled it very well, far beyond his years. He comments that it's quite different from his high school job at a bakery. I should hope so. Every journey begins with a single step, and many careers begin with a McJob or two before you get to the prestigious stuff. I find these stories fascinating. BigPerson8686 has volunteered to do an "Ask a Fast Food Worker" thread, and we'll do that in a week or two, but it got me thinking about McJobs in general. I sort of missed out on McJobs, in a way. I'm a computer guy, and my first jobs were indeed non-commissioned barely-above-minimum-wage retail jobs. But they were selling software and computers, back when people who sold such things were expected to actually have a fair bit of technical knowledge about them (before the big box stores shut down all the little boutiques). At the first one, ties were mandatory and coats were recommended. There were good and bad points to those early jobs. On the good side, it was fun interacting with people, and once I learned the ropes I could do the job in my sleep. Also, when I clocked out, I was done until I got back to work. Nowadays I go home and try to work up the energy to get some work done at home to get caught up. On the downside, buying a cheeseburger and fries cost me an hour's pay before taxes. Because we were all nerds and half the guys were in their 20s and 30s on commission, there weren't really any shenanigans to report. One of my favorite sites capturing the essence of a pure McJob is this group set up by some of the summer lifeguards at Walden Pond in Massachusetts. They describe the experience thusly: Spoiler We all know working at Walden is the shit. Especially being a lifeguard. This group is for everyone who loves Walden, all the crazy people who go there and who understand: we all party like animals we smoke weed...including the supervisors nobody from concord actually goes there to swim there are no trash cans at the beach...carry in carry out BITCH the bathrooms are upstairs...and no you cant use the handicapped bathroom if youve ever been asked the stupidest questions. EVER. floatation devices arent allowed, but hate telling people to take them out of the pond youve heard "whered the beach go??" 5 million times kids must be clothed ...and potty trained you know the crazy lady who collects mushrooms and occasionally flips out because she thinks if mice can eat them, she can too you know not to swim after a few weeks of peak season and you feel the need to shower after a safety check taking the board out is the SHIT, and you get to tan your back side the park workers do way more work and get paid less sleeping in the back room is key being hungover is expected ...throwing up in the handicap bathroom is extra points the state police all know we smoke weed bc "they see those phish stickers" on our cars TAKING THE BOAT OUT. YA KNOW. gotten complained about for driving the boat too fast and/or jumping off diving w/fins and masks you love getting paid to work out we all know whats really going on with denise and pete terri can roll a blunt with 1 hand we love thunder! youve never had to save anyone youve flipped the polaris youve crashed a gator youve gone through a day and heard no english spoken on the beach the park closes at sunset....right. making fun of patrons never gets old you know walden attracts creepers! and peepers! youve gotten a date with a patron youve had a crush on a camp counselor/wanted to steal a cute camper you never really see the need to go up to the second chair, or the first chair for that matter...you can see everyone from first aid you enjoy watching the park workers paint the same places over and over again you always volunteer to drive to dunkin donuts you enjoy being half naked and having a bathing suit as a uniform you get taxed up the asshole from the state of massachusetts the pond path is 1.7 miles (sometimes more if it's flooded) of beautifulness swimming the mile to the other side and back is awesome/really hard WE LOVE WALDEN POND! FOCUS: What McJobs did you have before you started your career in earnest? What were the best parts of those McJobs? What were the worst?