Woman talking(l+r), Panda Express(c)

jejim/Shutterstock @monique.eliochoa/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘I wanna apply so bad’: Former Panda Express worker sees how much her old job is now paying per hour, applies

'They pay more than the job I got with my degree.'


Beau Paul


Posted on Mar 1, 2024   Updated on Feb 29, 2024, 4:21 pm CST

Nobody wants to work” is a common refrain these days, but it turns out that many are happy to do their job—if it pays well enough.

TikToker Monique Eliochoa (@monique.eliochoa) says as much in a recent video. Using a popular Nicki Minaj sound clip, Eliochoa states that she would be perfectly willing to return to her old job at Panda Express now that it’s offering a starting wage of $21 an hour.

The video, captioned, “Like take me back panda,” was posted on Tuesday. So far, it has over 339,700 views and counting.

In it, Eliochoa faces the camera while lip-syncing to Nicki Minaj’s job interview sound clip. The on-screen caption reads, “Me at a Panda Express interview after quitting awhile [sic] ago but I found out they pay $21 an hour now.”

The sound clip that plays over the video features Minaj’s interviewee stating, “I don’t bullsh*t. I don’t BS. Work is work. I’m there to work. If you need me to do something, I’ll get the job done.”

According to Panda Restaurant Group’s Indeed portal, wages for a Panda Express Team Member vary from state to state. The average wage for a team member in California, where Eliochoa said she was based in a comment, is just over $15 an hour. Managers may make up to $24 an hour.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Panda Express for a statement.

@monique.eliochoa Like take me back panda😭 #ineedajob #hireme #fyp #funny ♬ original sound – Nicki Minaj

Eliochoa’s video had some of her viewers rethinking their current career paths.

User spamezchavez_ (@spamezchavez_) wrote, “I’m applying idc if I have a degree.” Eliochoa responded, “Girl same!”

Another viewer wrote, “they pay more than the job I got with my degree.”

One viewer admitted that the starting rate beat out his managerial wage at another fast food chain, writing, “Nah Fr I saw the sign for 21/hr starting pay meanwhile I’m stressing here with 18.90 as a McD Manager.”

However, some viewers were not impressed.

One viewer, who appeared to know that the position was in California, wrote, “in California… that’s like getting paid $11 anywhere else.”

California’s minimum wage increased to $16 an hour on Jan. 1, per California’s Department of Industrial Relations. For fast food workers, the minimum wage increased from $16 to $20 after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law in September, according to the New York Post.

However, even a $21 wage has less buying power in California than elsewhere. According to 24/7 Wall Street, “In California, the cost of living is 42.2% higher than it is on average nationwide, according to the Composite Cost of Living Index published by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Overall, the cost of living in California ranks as the third highest among states.”

Another of Eliochoa’s commenters admitted that they weren’t up to the pace of fast food work anymore. “Never again it was rush hour all day every day for me,” they wrote.

That isn’t stopping some potential employees from trying to grab another job at Panda Express, though.

Evelyn (@evelynnnxox) wrote, “No fr I ghosted them but the old managers aren’t there so I’m applying.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Eliochoa via TikTok direct message for further comment.

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*First Published: Mar 1, 2024, 12:00 am CST