Courtney Boyd, a McDonald’s manager, said she and her co-workers
                                                                                                                     are “like a family.” Photo: Ann Claire Johnson

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Courtney Boyd, an 18-year-old manager of the McDonald’s on Martin Luther King Boulevard, works 8- to 10-hour shifts in order to fulfill her dream of finishing culinary school.

“I love cooking and being around food. That is one reason why I work here,” Boyd said. While being in charge of keeping McDonald’s running like a well-oiled machine, she is invested in the well-being of her coworkers and customers. “We are a tight knit group, like a family,” she said.

Boyd makes $10 an hour. She has worked at McDonald’s since she was 15 years old and then once turning 18 she was promoted to a managing position. “I am a manager that has split shifts. Sometimes I work overnight, sometimes during the day, sometimes in the morning. I get thrown in because I have open availability,” Boyd said. At the time of this interview she was working at 1:30 am.

Boyd said people starting at McDonald’s begin as a crew member making $8.50 an hour and then can work their way up to a maximum of $9.00 an hour. When Boyd was promoted to a managerial position, she began making $10 an hour, the minimum hourly wage for a manager. Managers and crew members can be promoted yearly.


Boyd is grateful that her parents support her dream. They fund 90 percent of her tuition at Northwest Arkansas Community College for culinary school and she is able to live at home.  “I am getting free rent at their house,” Boyd said, which allows her to save up for her own house.

Boyd said that she has to sacrifice a social life and free time in order to work and pursue culinary school. Staying in touch with friends is difficult with the full-time job, which will include overtime work, in addition to the two five-hour classes for culinary school. “I also have to sacrifice time with my family,” Boyd said. Boyd will go to her 11 a.m. culinary classes twice a week after her 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at McDonald’s.

Boyd said working at McDonald’s sometimes isn’t worth it. “At the pay I get, no. But it’s McDonald’s, so I definitely could go somewhere else,” she said. Boyd appreciates her employer’s flexibility. “They are easy with my hours. And if I needed a day off they can usually give me the day off then and there and I don’t get any consequences,” she said.

McDonald’s holds a training class once a month for staff workers interested in moving up to managing positions. This class is helpful because in addition to positive reinforcement to the hard workers, it provides tips to maintaining good hygiene and acting as a leader in a fast-paced work place.

Boyd said she believes some of the overnight staff live below the poverty line.

“I believe that people that live below the poverty line are the people that work the hardest. They really want to keep their job and succeed,” Boyd said.