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.
Frank Cardello is the chief financial officer at Packaging Logic in LaPorte and treasurer of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board.
What was your first summer job?
My primary job was dishwasher at Morrison’s Drive Inn in Michigan City. I made $4 an hour. I was 15 and loved to work. I also delivered newspapers, mowed lawns and did various landscaping projects around my neighborhood.
How did you get the job at Morrison’s?
I used some of my lawn-mowing money to buy hot dogs at Morrison’s. One day, while finishing up my food, I picked up the litter around the table and threw it away. The owner saw me do that and offered me a job.
What was a typical work week?
Initially, I worked the lunch period from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and then the dinner hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. But my boss Ron Zila saw that I was a good worker and quickly assigned me more duties. I stayed with Morrison’s for several years. In between my college years, I usually worked 30 hours per week during the summer.
Besides washing dishes, what other tasks did you perform at Morrison’s?
I did it all. I served food to customers, worked the cash register, cleaned the restrooms, ordered and then re-stocked food and supplies and closed the restaurant. But what I really excelled at was scrubbing the stainless steel counters.
In addition to becoming the best stainless-steel scrubber in Michigan City, what else did you discover about yourself?
Soon after I became responsible for ordering food items, I realized that I was good at recognizing patterns in various food consumptions. I developed an improved system to control our inventory. It saved Morrison’s a tremendous amount of money, especially for perishable food items. My fascination with numbers resulted in my going to college to be an accountant.
What did you like about your job?
I enjoyed the work, the free food and during slow periods of the day the practical jokes my coworkers and I played on each other.
What advice do you have for a young person about to begin his/her first job?
Accept any job offered to you. Enjoy the experience and have the ability to interact with people in real-life situations. You will never know what the “perfect” job is if you never experience a range of jobs and job duties. Having a couple of extra dollars in your pocket is not a bad thing either.
What advice do you have for employers who hire youth?
As the manager of a business, I fully understand the liability issues associated with hiring a youth. However, there are jobs that this segment of our population can do and do well. During the summer, we hire high school students to perform painting projects around the plant. These are low-risk jobs and simple to supervise. But I have never forgotten the “added value” I demonstrated to the good people at Morrison’s during my teen years. I feel good about providing that same opportunity of a first job to the young people of our community.
The READY NWI partnership supports the unique aspects of community, school, and student, and embraces a commitment to regional thinking and acting in order to ensure prosperity by meeting the skill and education needs of employers throughout Northwest Indiana.