I make $20 an hour at a burger chain in Seattle. The healthcare perks, paid vacation, and 401(k) matches are just a few reasons why I love my job.

Dick's Drive-In.
Jasmine Ritter has been working at Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle since 2019. Jasmine Ritter/Dick’s Drive-In.
  • Jasmine Ritter, 22, works at Dick’s Drive-In, a burger chain in Seattle that raised wages to $US19 ($AU25) an hour for new hires and $US20 ($AU27) for trained staff.
  • The pay raise is just one of a few great employee perks – Ritter says they also get health benefits and educational scholarships.
  • This is what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Claire Turrell.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Jasmine Ritter, a senior crew member at Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle, Washington. It has been edited for length and clarity.

My first memory of Dick’s Drive-In was buying burgers, fries, and shakes with my theater friends when I was in high school. After we finished rehearsals, we’d all go to Dick’s, since there were too many of us to sit down together and eat in a regular restaurant.

I started working at Dick’s in August 2019 to help pay for my studies at Seattle University. Dick’s was great because they were happy to work with my school and theater schedule. I’d have class during the day, rehearsals at night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and I’d work at Dick’s when I wasn’t studying. Not a lot of jobs are open to that much flexibility. Now, I’m a senior crew member and certified trainer at the Capital Hill store.

We found out our wages were going to be increased in September.

Jasmine Ritter/Dick's Drive-In
Ritter says she’s happy to have been working consistent hours throughout the pandemic. Jasmine Ritter

It’s so neat. I have a lot of student loans, and being able to have a consistent job during these times as well as get pay raises and bonuses throughout has been amazing. Most of Dick’s stores stayed open during the pandemic, a few closed early, but our store on Broadway chugged along. We haven’t closed down once.

Editor’s note: On September 27, Dick’s Drive-In announced that the starting wage for new employees would be $US19 ($AU25) an hour and increase to $US20 ($AU27) after training and passing a skills test.

Now that I’ve graduated college, I work up to 40 hours a week at Dick’s. We open at 10.30 a.m. and close at 2 a.m. I only live a five-minute walk away from the store, and when I get to work, I usually start opening the grill. The shift is split into quarters, so I might start with the grill, then I’ll go on a break and switch to the window, run fries, or dip ice cream.

The best job at the restaurant is what we call back work, when you’re not assigned to a specific area. You can float around and do your own thing. You sweep, fill up condiment boxes, or jump in on wrapping burgers if someone wants to use the bathroom. It’s very relaxing.

The worst job is making the shakes. During the summer months the ice cream can melt and spray on you when you’re mixing the shakes, and in the winter the ice cream can be so cold you can’t get it on the spindle.

Dick's Drive-In shakes
Chocolate shakes on the spindle. Dick’s Drive-In

The fries are the hardest item to make. We have a list of what to look for in a done fry: Is the color right, does it float to the top of the oil, and if you shake a basket of fries does it rustle like a pile of autumn leaves? It’s always very satisfying to shake a basket and hear the right noise.

I really love mastering new skills, so Dick’s has been great for that. It’s a real rush when you master a skill and then move to the next one. When I started on fries, I had such weak arms the training manager said: ‘I don’t know if you can do fries,’ and now I train new hires on fries.

A huge perk about working here is the great atmosphere.

If you want to be a Dick’s employee you need a good attitude, but you’ll also get a lot of training and support.

On weekend nights, some interesting people come through. You get a lot of drunk, happy people saying: ‘You’re the best thing that’s happened tonight’ when they get their food, and you also get some upset customers who don’t understand why we have to close at 2 a.m.

Dick's Drive-In Deluxe burger, shake, and fries.
Dick’s Deluxe burger, shake, and fries. Dick’s Drive-In

Dick’s is really popular among Seattle locals, but we also get a lot of customers from California who like to see how our food compares with In-N-Out Burger. My coworkers have served Bill Gates and they said he was very nice.

The pay raise isn’t the only perk we have as Dick’s Drive-In employees.

We get health and dental insurance, paid vacation, 401(k) matches, discounted food, educational scholarships, and they also compensate us for volunteer work. Dick’s gave me a scholarship for my theater studies and has been really supportive in helping me work towards my goals.

If you’ve just moved to Seattle and want to become part of the community, take it from me – working at Dick’s Drive-In will give you a lot of credit.