Roberta Thompson saw the suit-clad woman on the midday television news program and instantly felt inspired.
So much so that she drove to Janet Powelson's McDonald's store to apply for a job.
As a former manager at Ruth's Chris Steak House, Thompson already has experience in the food industry. She's also a loyal customer of the McDonald's drive-through at Sunset and Eastern -- the very one where she applied.
"I'm willing to take anything and prove myself on the job," Thompson said.
Thompson was one of countless McDonald's applicants on Tuesday during the company's National Hiring Day. The company planned to hire up to 500 people in Southern Nevada and 50,000 nationwide.
The Oak Brook, Ill., company has 109 stores in Southern Nevada and about 14,000 nationwide.
The hiring goal roughly translates to about three to five employees at each store.
"We need to put America back to work, and this is one of the ways we're going to do that," McDonald's franchisee Powelson said.
Powelson and her husband, Bob, own and operate three McDonald's in Southern Nevada.
Thompson works part time with a local cleaning business. She said seeing Powelson on television and hearing her words about the possibility for a career at McDonald's gave her hope.
"She made this opportunity sound like an excellent opportunity," Thompson said.
Plus, Thompson liked that Powelson is a female business owner. She said that is motivation for her to work toward the same end.
Thompson was just one of scores of applicants to seek work from the fast-food store in Southern Nevada.
The Sunset and Eastern store's manager and assistant manager conducted interviews. Assistant manager Linda Sage estimated she spoke to 45 people before 3 p.m. Powelson said that number is about double the applications she received last year.
Around 3 p.m., Andre Valdez came to apply for a job at Powelson's store. Valdez, 18, works for Albertsons but wants a second job to help pay for his car, which he needs so he can get to work. He also wants to go to college and study accounting, so he hopes to stash some cash for that too.
"I just need more money," he said.
Powelson said her stores, like many others, will need more employees to assist as new products come in and older ones are changed.
Each change or new procedure adds seconds to the assembly line, which in the fast-food business can mean a difference in customer perception. Fairly new product additions that have increased time in the kitchen include smoothies, oatmeal and frappes.
Even though more people can add to a fast-food chain's success, Powelson said it's imperative to get the right people in the right positions or it can also go horribly wrong.
"It's fast-paced and not a lot of down time," she said. "If there's time to lean, it's time to clean. We don't waste many steps."
In the hopes of attracting an array of job candidates, McDonald's advertised heavily before National Hiring Day.
McDonald's and other fast-food chains, once entry points into the work force for teenagers, appear to be turning into employers of more adults, a legacy of the recession, industry watchers said. The average age of a fast-food worker is 29.5, up from 22 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Those who applied in Southern Nevada ranged from college students to retirees to unemployed adults.
Within two days, Powelson and her managers plan to make job offers. Next week they will begin orientation.
New workers at McDonald's will start at the minimum wage -- $8.25 an hour. High school students have a chance to increase their earnings by 10 cents each quarter if they achieve at least a minimum 2.5 grade point average.
Restaurant managers can make up to $50,000 plus benefits. Included in the employee benefits is the opportunity to attend Hamburger University, a management training program in which the courses may be transferable for college credit. Employees also are eligible for college scholarships and free daily meals when working.
Average daily restaurant sales in Southern Nevada equal $5,745 and the average annual spending per city resident at McDonald's is $97.75. The corporation's Southern Nevada stores spend about $40.7 million in annual wages and $16.1 million in annual benefits.
"We're looking for energy, a willingness to work and to run a multimillion-dollar business," Sage, the assistant manager, said. "It's not just a McDonald's."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Laura Emerson at lemerson@ lvbusinesspress.com or 380-4588.