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GUEST COMMENTARY: My first job was frying KFC chickens
May 29, 2016 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. Mike Baird is a retired regional president of Northwest Indiana BMO Harris Bank. Did you work as a teen? I mowed lawns as a 12-year-old, but my first job as a teen was at the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Valparaiso. I worked five days a week after school frying chicken for the dinner hour and then all day on Sunday for a total of 20 hours. Did you like the work? I loved it. It was very important to arrive on time because I was responsible for cooking all of the chicken for the peak dinner hour each night. Frying the chicken followed a very rigid recipe, and it had to be completed on a tight schedule. So it was critical that I followed directions and carefully managed my time. How much did you earn, and what did you do with your earnings? I believe I earned the minimum wage at that time of $1.25 per hour (1965). I saved some money to buy a Gibson electric guitar and amplifier so I could play in a band. I also used my earnings to pay for dates and put gas in my Dad’s car when I used it. What was the least favorite aspect of your job? Getting splattered with hot grease. My mother didn’t think that was good for me. Do you remember your co-workers? My co-workers were a great group of people. One of my favorites was Bob Taylor. Many years later, Bob and I had the privilege of serving together on the Valparaiso City Council. Did you get into trouble or make any serious mistakes on the job? Nothing serious. However, I had a habit of singing while I worked. Every once in awhile, Chuck Wheeler, the owner, would drop by for a visit. Several times, he would walk up to me and tap me on the shoulder. With a smile and in a friendly tone of voice, he told me that he enjoyed my singing but maybe the customers didn’t. I knew that meant to stop singing. A few years later, I was a young banker at a large Chicago bank and still had the singing habit. One afternoon, one of the senior officers was meeting nearby with a customer. He came to my desk and diplomatically asked me if his conversation with a customer was bothering my singing. It wasn’t, I laughed to myself, but I got the message. So the moral to your singing is….? Be happy in your work! Singing was my way of expressing a positive attitude in my job. What advice do you have for a young person about to begin his/her first job? There are several soft skills that every employee needs to demonstrate, but perhaps the most important are being punctual and dependable, and to listen and follow directions. What advice do you have for employers who hire youth? In addition to providing a paycheck, try to be a good mentor. And never underestimate the tremendous opportunity you have given a young person to develop good work habits they will retain for the rest of their lives. Source: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest-commentary/guest-commentary-my-first-job-was-frying-kfc-chickens/article_07254487-f17b-5abd-8a3e-e05b8ea6bc44.htmlLearn more »
GUEST COMMENTARY: My first job was quarry laborer in Kentland
May 15, 2016 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 will review the story behind some of Region leaders’ and residents’ first jobs. Dave Ryan is Executive Director at the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce in Hammond. What was your first job? I worked as a general laborer at the Newton County Stone Quarry in Kentland. My paycheck helped pay for my tuition at Indiana University in Bloomington. My family had three kids in college at the same time. How much did you earn? I made $1.75 an hour — pretty decent pay for the time. Overtime pay was time and a half. The summer was a busy time at the quarry, and we usually worked six days and 60 hours a week. What type of work did you do? A variety of tasks. I learned how to use a hammer and drive a 50-ton quarry truck. We also set up dynamite once a week for a “shot” that would lift thousands of tons of limestone into a big pile. What were your co-workers like? They were salt-of-the-earth guys who would do anything for you. I was there for the summer, but the quarry was their livelihood 12 months of the year. They worked extremely hard at physically demanding jobs to earn a paycheck. Yet many of them also had vegetable gardens and loved sharing their bounty with us at the end of the summer. They taught me to be humble and thankful for all that I have. What did you not like about your job at the quarry? The long hours were brutal that first summer. One of my first tasks was to paint a piece of equipment. After eight hours, I had not completed the task and thought I could return in the morning to finish the work. I had a date that evening. My boss made it clear to me that my workday was over when I finished the paint job. I called my date, Mary, to tell her I would be late. Everything worked out fine. We later married and will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in September. Did you ever get into trouble? You might say that. I remember the day I was driving the dump truck and forgot to lower the bed after dumping a load of dirt. As I was driving away, the raised bed of the truck ripped up the utility lines providing electricity to the entire quarry. To this day, I can remember the shower of sparks flying all over the hood of the truck. Fortunately, I was not hurt, but my actions shut down the quarry for the rest of the day. I was told to take a few days off to let my boss cool off. So I spent this unscheduled “vacation” at the beach. What did you learn from this episode? Never take your work for granted, and concentrate on the task before you. What did you learn from your four summers at the quarry? It provided me an incentive to complete my degree work at IU; I did not want to work in a quarry to make a living. What advice do you have for that young person about to begin their first job? Be prepared for the unexpected. You may love the job, or you may not like it at all, but it will be a job and a great learning lesson for future jobs and career options. What advice do you have for employers that hire youth? Treat them with respect. Teach them the traits of the job. Understand that they will make mistakes but that they will learn from those mistakes. Source: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest-commentary/guest-commentary-my-first-job-was-quarry-laborer-in-kentland/article_6afd4508-f6b7-57dc-ab5e-61aff8fa8cda.htmlLearn more »
GUEST COMMENTARY: My first job was draftsman internship
May 1, 2016 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 will review the story behind some of Region leaders’ and residents’ first jobs. Aco Sikorski is president of the Valparaiso Campus Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and serves on the Youth Employment Council of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board. What was your first job? I grew up in Macedonia and had an unpaid summer internship for several years as a technical draftsman in an engineering design office. I worked 32 to 40 hours a week. It was a terrific experience as I eventually earned my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. Do you remember your co-workers? Yes. Many of them were my classmates along with one full-time employee. It was a great working environment. Projects were getting done because people enjoyed working together. What did you like about the internship? Observing and working in a real industrial setting made me realize the value of the classroom experience and learning the theory and fundamentals of engineering. Honestly, after the summer’s internships, I was looking forward to go back to learn more, especially in the technical courses. What did you not like about the internship? Getting up early. I loved to stay up late at night. Sleeping in was not an option. Did the internship experience allow you to discover what your true skills? Yes. I loved being part of a team. I remember a project that we, as a team, worked on and completed before its deadline. The department manager recognized us for our efforts. Why do you believe it is important for young people to hold a job? There are several reasons young people should have the opportunity to work. It teaches students responsibility. It helps them understand the importance of training and learning skills. It offers the opportunity to work as part of a team. Is your Valparaiso campus currently a partner with firms regarding internships? Yes we are. Our industrial technology program works with ArcelorMittal. The Steelworker for the Future program offers qualified students the opportunity to work at the steel mill during the summer. If companies are considering interns for their business, what would be the essential elements that would create a meaningful internship? A well-defined work plan is essential. The internship should be goal-oriented. The intern’s job responsibilities should support learning objectives. In other words, students should be engaged in workplace activities related to their program of studies. Source: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest-commentary/guest-commentary-my-first-job-was-draftsman-internship/article_6ca7f177-55f4-575e-8072-a2186f0e9bbc.htmlLearn more »