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.
Joseph P. Medellin is Manager of Human Resources at Arcelor Mittal in East Chicago.
Did you work as a teen?
Like many folks my age, I worked in the steel mills. The day after graduating from Lew Wallace High School, my dad helped me get a job with his employer, U.S. Steel, in Gary. I made $2.75 an hour. I worked there for six months and then started college at Valparaiso University. But the work of the steel mills was appealing to me.
My sister helped me land a part-time job at Inland Steel. I continued my education at Valpo but worked weekends and one day a week at Inland.
What did you do?
I operated mobile equipment, including forklifts and overhead cranes. It was a great experience, and my earnings helped pay for my college education.
Do you recall making any serious mistakes on the job?
I was in a hurry, and I dropped a steel coil while loading it on a truck. No one was hurt, but from that day forward, I learned not to rush and be more safety conscious.
What did you like about your work?
A paycheck gave me independence, but I also appreciated the recognition for a job well done.
What was your least favorite aspect of the job?
Shift work. 4-12 and the midnight shift made it difficult to sleep.
Did the job help you discover what you were good at?
I enjoyed my work operating mobile equipment. In my early teen years, I helped Dad with a variety of manual labor jobs including roofing, electrical, carpentry and concrete work. But I became fascinated with the human resources aspect of the steel business.
You grew up in the mills and never left?
The name of my employer has changed, but the address remains the same. Inland Steel became Ispat Inland, then Mittal and now Arcelor Mittal. I remain forever grateful for the opportunities I have had in the workplace.
What advice do you have for a young person about to begin their first job?
It sounds so simple, but I would tell that young person to put forth that extra effort to get the job done. Do your work with energy and confidence. Come to work every day and on time. Be a good listener. Demonstrate your ability to solve problems.
What is your advice to an employer that hires young people?
Do whatever you can to make that youth worker an excellent employee. Their success is a reflection of you and your business. In the end, it will reap benefits for you and them.
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.