August 14, 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.
Rich Gamblin is the apprenticeship coordinator with Ironworkers Local 395.
What was your first summer job?
I worked at Roxana Grocery store in East Chicago. It was a neighborhood grocery store, and I was hired to do a little of everything: bagging groceries, stocking shelves, mopping the floor and general cleanup.
What did you earn?
I made the minimum wage — about $3 an hour. I worked 15 to 20 hours a week. I saved most of my money, but I did buy items that my parents would not buy me, such as video games.
What did you like about the job?
I liked the fact that I was earning money, but the experience was helping me to develop a strong work ethic.
Were there any tasks at the grocery store you did not enjoy?
Yes. I did not like cleaning up the butcher area. This was a difficult job even for a young man. It was very bloody, and the blood tended to mix with the sawdust on the floor, which made it difficult clean up. The smell was very bad, and it was parts of animals.
Did the job help you discover your skills?
Definitely. I discovered I was good at being prompt, taking direction, handling different tasks and understanding the value of hard work.
As the apprenticeship coordinator for Ironworkers Local 395, what are the skills and experiences you are looking for in people who wish to enter your program?
The most successful candidates possess good math skills and a mechanical aptitude. The best ironworkers like to work with their hands and tools and understand they must work outdoors. Construction work takes you from one work site to another, so you have to be able to move from job to job and adapt to different people and new working environments.
What advice do you have for a young person about to start his or her first job?
What advice do you have for employers that hire youth?
Be patient. I like the saying that states, “You cannot do something for the second time if you have not done it for the first time.” We need to give youth a chance to learn the skills they need to be a part of the workforce.
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.