Last week I started my job at JACK Entertainment. JACK is a gaming company based in Detroit that owns and operates three casinos, one racino, and one race track in Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. They are also partnered with Caesars on a casino in Baltimore.
Most people know our Detroit casino as Greektown (soon to be JACK Detroit Casino-Hotel at Greektown). Including all the casinos, race tracks, and hotels JACK Entertainment has around 7,000 employees (or “team members”), although JACK itself (I guess we’d call it JACK Corporate but I don’t really like that) in downtown Detroit has fewer than 200 team members.
The marketing team, legal team, business development team, HR team, finance team, etc., along with all the executive leadership up to the CEO are all located on about a floor and a half in a high rise building downtown. So despite being a somewhat large company on paper, the Home Office has a very “start-up” feel to it. Small and lean.
But in spite of being a pretty small group, all JACK team members go to a two-day orientation at Greektown Casino-Hotel. This is with all new hires within all areas of the casino, hotel, or JACK. In a group of over 20 I was the only JACK new hire there. And apart from learning about the company’s culture and philosophy, most of the two days was more relevant for the hotel and casino staff than for me.
But even though it wasn’t the most useful thing to me, I found it interesting. I was struck by how awesome a place like this is to work at for people in the service industry. People who don’t have many technical skills and little education.
Working at place like Greektown is a hundred times better than working at some stand-alone restaurant, bar, or club. Greektown is a big organization. It has a lot of opportunities and huge potential for individual growth within it. Several people who were involved in our orientation has risen from being servers or casino cage cashiers to the level of Director in different departments.
Being a server or bartender at such a large organization (huge if you count all of JACK’s properties) allows you to move forward and advance beyond that if you feel motivated to do so. It turns waiting tables into something more than just paying the bills—it turns it into a viable and sustainable career path. It makes the job about more than money. It makes it about your future.
More than just the size of JACK or Greektown is its (what seems to me to be) genuine philosophy. They don’t just say you could move eventually from a bar-back to more of a business or corporate role, you actually can. They support you and offer every opportunity and ability for you to move up.
Having worked quite a bit in the service industry, this just really stuck out to me. This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Greektown and I have only worked at JACK for a week—but it just seemed really cool. This upward mobility within the company leaves credentialism behind and embodies the idea of the supremacy of practical skills and practical experience.
I’ll write more on my experience at JACK in the future, but I thought I would share my early reflections and thoughts on orientation.