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A Better Version of Herself

March 8, 2019

Maria Contreras is a crew member at a McDonald’s in Chicago.

Maria Contreras, 18, has a lot to be proud of. She completed her GED after dropping out of high school; she’s the first in her family to attend college; and she’s training to be a crew trainer at a job she loves—McDonald’s.

“I can honestly say I love my job,” says Maria, who lives in Chicago. “It’s helped me grow a lot as a person and I plan to stay here for as long as I can.”

Maria’s journey with McDonald’s began earlier with Youth Opportunity, a pre-employment job-readiness and soft skills training program. She was struggling with personal issues when she heard about the program.

“It inspired me because I knew that I wanted to become a better version of myself.”

While participating in Youth Opportunity, Maria toured a McDonald’s restaurant and learned about Archways to Opportunity, McDonald’s comprehensive education program for employees, including college tuition assistance that she is taking advantage of.

She applied for a crew job on the spot and was invited to interview.

“I remember when I came here dressed up, trying to make a good impression on my manager,” Maria says. “I got really happy because it was going to be my first job. I saw that as an opportunity as a person and to help out my mom.”

She is now in her first year of college and majoring in dental hygiene. Her long-term goal is to become a dentist.

“If I wasn’t at McDonald’s I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to grow and study what I want to study,” she says.

Maria adds that she’s a more social, outgoing person as a result of her job at McDonald’s and the community she’s found there among her co-workers and manager.

“I feel really supported,” she says. “I feel proud of myself because now as a young woman I get to inspire other young women to continue and better themselves.”