[By Laura Buisman]

If you’re anything like me, you spent your high school years clad in a dowdy uniform, doling out kiddie meals to screaming children and slaving over a sweltering grill in a sweaty kitchen. You might see these experiences as a smudgy grease stain on the resume of life, but I have come to realize that my time spent slinging burgers and fries served as the ultimate public relations crash course.

You’ve dealt with enraged drive-thru customers, stressed-out mothers with screaming toddlers in tow, and an extensive range of “dynamic” personalities. Working in fast food retail forces you to interact with a multitude of customers and coworkers and these experiences prepare you for a career in communications. That’s right, interpersonal communications skills are an essential part of this field, especially when you are trying to influence relationships between your client and your audience. Customer relations is all about creating positive personal connections with others and these skills become integral part of your PR know-how.

Believe it or not, the age-old saying “would you like fries with that?” is connected to public relations. This is because, so early in your employment history, you were being trained to relay key messages and persuade people to believe the products your restaurant sells are the best. I remember being stuffed in a dark basement meeting room with four other bored teenagers, all forced to watch these horribly outdated training videos. There was a part of the video where an alarmingly happy employee demonstrated how to create a “golden moment” with every customer you serve by tailoring your suggestions and “up-sell” to specific customers. Essentially, your employer was teaching you the art of effective storytelling- a skill that all excellent PR practitioners need to have.

If you’re stuck behind a sticky soda-stained counter with big PR aspirations, don’t despair. Your time working at a fast-food restaurant won’t go to waste like all the stale burgers at the end of the night. View every shift as another day in communications boot-camp, and you’ll be well on your way to your dream career.

(Photo by Laura Buisman)