This is part of the Ready NWI and First Job series — an initiative of the Youth Employment Council of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board. The series reviews the story behind some of Region leaders’ and residents’ first jobs.
What was your first job?
I worked as a cashier at the Loews River Run movie theater in Lansing.
How did you find the job?
Several of my classmates worked at the theater and told me they were hiring. I worked 15 hours a week at an hourly wage that was slightly more than minimum wage. My coworkers were great to work with and made the job enjoyable.
Did you wear a uniform?
Yes. We were required to wear black pants with a white shirt.
What did you do with your earnings?
I used the money for a variety of items including entertainment expenses. I no longer had to ask my parents for money.
Do you remember any serious mistakes you made?
I am sure I did, but nothing serious. My coworkers and I worked as a team, so we helped each other out.
Who was your boss?
Art Cardenas. He was very understanding of us, and fun, too.
What was the least enjoyable part of the job?
Cleaning up the mess people made in the concession area. Yuck!
What did you discover you were good at?
The job made me realize that I enjoyed working with the public, and I enjoyed being part of a team.
What valuable skill did you acquire from your first job as a movie theater cashier?
I developed a strong work ethic that helped me in future jobs and in the job I hold today.
What advice do you have for a young person about to begin his/her first job?
Be willing to learn and grow from the experience, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant situations. You will learn so much about yourself and others, be they your coworkers, your boss or your customers.
What advice do you have for employers who hire youth?
Be patient. Make sure you can relate to younger people. Let them know that you truly care about them.
You currently serve as director of economic development for the city of Hammond. Are summer jobs for youth good for the growth and future of Hammond?
The youth are our future. As our workforce ages and technology grows, it is important to have a well-trained pool of candidates to maintain a stable business community. It is also important to be prepared with skilled workers for major shifts in the economy.