Andy Reik, freelance camera man / DOP, Dust Media Group

In our regular series, big cheeses take us back to their first jobs


Hi Andy! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Andy and I’m a freelance cameraman / DOP [director of photography]. I cover a lot of football, so I’ve just finished working on the women’s EUROs. I’ve been filming a documentary for Netflix, and in between all that, I do general corporate branded content, and work as instructor with the Army Cadet force.

What was your first McJob?

Working at Brent Cross McDonald’s, with Emma Sinclair!

How long did you work there for?

I started in 91, when I was 16, about to go into the Sixth Form. There was only one place you could get food in Brent Cross, this little cafe that sold cakes and coffee. Then McDonald’s opened and it went crazy, with non-stop queues out of the door. My mum saw they were looking for staff, I applied, and I was working there practically the day they opened.

What did you have to do?

Everything to get my five stars. [Proudly shows badge]. I still have them on my fridge!

Andrew! Very formal!

Yes, I’m very proud. One star is for food, one for service, one for cleaning, and one just for being a nice person, I think. I had to clean outside the store and front of house, and was often on the chicken station at the back. After I’d been there a while, I was promoted to “wrap and call”, which involved trying to evaluate how many people were coming in, so the food could be prepared in advance.

Did anything funny happen?

I remember spending a full eight-hour shift making fries, coming home, being absolutely caked in salt and grease and having to take at least two showers.

How long did you work there?

About year and a half. I started on £2.95 and hour and ended on £3.25.

What did you spend your first pay cheque on?

A baseball jacket from a shop in Golders Green.

What skills did you learn that you still use today?

Efficiency, timekeeping and turnover. After your shift they would let you know how much money had been taken, so you could judge your own efficiently. McDonald’s is an enormous organisation, but it still felt like you were working in a little team. I was eventually invited onto the management training program, but turned it down because I wanted to go to university.

Are you still in contact with any of your old colleagues?

Yes, with a couple of my school friends who worked there. And I’m still friends with Emma Sinclair!

Did you have any McRomances?

Yes! I went out with Emma!

Why is alumni so important?

The world is all about who you know. The more people you know, the easier life becomes. My industry in particular is all about making contacts. If you go freelance, my advice is to do it as early as possible to build up your contacts.

What would happen if you went back and worked in McDonald’s today?

I think I’d probably smash it! I don’t think I’d want to do it for more than a day or two. I’d probably choose to do wrap and call if I could.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

I was quite shy at the time, so I’d probably say: be friendlier to people, because you never know!




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