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Where You Want To Be: Helping McDonald’s Restaurant Employees Explore Their Career Potential & Possibilities By Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s US Chief People Officer

March 6, 2019

As the Chief People Officer for McDonald’s USA, I have a commitment and passion for improving the employment experience for U.S. Restaurant and Corporate Staff. This includes hiring, training, professional development and performance management. Our goal is to enhance each of these areas in ways that continue to improve the experience for each employee and supports McDonald’s business goals of growth and overall success. That’s why I’m thrilled about our new “Where You Want To Be” campaign, McDonald’s first-ever career advising campaign.

Where You Want To Be

Melissa Kersey with Taylor Porter who was selected to shadow her Owner/Operator, Dennis Cha as part of McDonald’s “Where You Want To Be” campaign

“Where You Want To Be” is focused on McDonald’s career advising services that are provided through our signature education program, Archways to Opportunity. This program is available to all eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants. These enhanced advising tools for restaurant employees include:

  • Free career and academic advising services with a Master’s-level prepared advisor to create a plan for reaching short and long-term education goals that bridge to career pathways.
  • McDonald’s is in the process of developing a rich new mobile experience for career and education exploration through a mobile app featuring built-in guidance and resources to help people advance their careers.

I’m proud to be a part of a company that is helping people take important steps in their career journey – it’s part of our plan to engage with restaurant employees in a meaningful and impactful way, especially as our nation is facing a shift in its workforce. As a result of the evolving workplace, employers are re-examining which skills matter most to them. For McDonald's and its independent franchisees, core soft skills like teamwork, customer service and responsibility are vitally important to the work in McDonald’s restaurants. And, as a brand that gives many young people their first jobs every year, we know these skills are especially important to those just starting out.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor, there are 7.3 million jobs available but only 6.1 million available workers. At the root of this discrepancy is the lack of qualified applicants to fill these jobs. Dan Roth, the editor-in-chief of LinkedIn, recently confirmed to CNBC that employers are most seeking are candidates with strong soft skills. Roth is advising what McDonald’s has been prioritizing for a while now – upskilling.

In addition to “Where You Want To Be,” McDonald’s is making strides and committing to build a more skilled and educated workforce – one that reaches beyond the personal value of restaurant employees to benefit the greater economy and the American workforce at large. We’re following through on that commitment with these opportunities:

  • Increasing education access through Archways to Opportunity to more than 36,000 people through resources to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language. To date, Archways to Opportunity has awarded more than $48 million in high school and college tuition assistance.
  • Expanding the HACER National Scholarship – which provides up to $100,000 to Hispanic students for tuition assistance – from five to 30 winners.
  • Partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) by funding four “True to the HBCU” $10,000 scholarships as a way to help foster educational empowerment.
  • Launching the Youth Opportunity initiative with the International Youth Foundation to reduce barriers to employment for two million young people by 2025 by starting in Chicago with a $2 million investment in pre-employment programming and apprenticeships.

Where You Want To Be
Melissa Kersey in a McDonald’s restaurant with Owner/Operator, Akins Akinnagbe and his employees

I recognize we don’t live in a one-size-fits-all world and at McDonald’s, we’re prepared for diverse outcomes from our employee education and engagement programs and are eager to see what paths they choose. Whatever their paths, I’m confident McDonald’s restaurant employees will find enrichment in these programs and will recognize, in a very tangible way, how the skills they’ve been learning every day at McDonald’s can help them in life – no matter where they go next.

To learn more about how McDonald’s supports restaurant employees, please visit:

Melissa Kersey is the Chief People Officer of McDonald’s USA.