Everyone has to start somewhere — even billionaires, movie stars, and world-famous musicians. Sure, some were born with silver spoons in their mouths, but many came from ordinary families and worked their way to the top, and that meant starting at the bottom, often in a less-than-glamorous job. Here are seven titans and tycoons whose early jobs were hardly an indication of what would happen to them in the future.
Now a media mogul famous for her conversation skills, Oprah started her work life as a teenager working at a corner store where she wasn’t allowed to talk to customers. At 16, she got a job more suited to her – a newsreader at a Nashville radio station.
The billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway worked as a paperboy at age 13, according to Biography.com. But he wasn’t exactly a typical teen: At that point, Buffett had already been investing for two years, and had claimed his bike as a $35 tax deduction.
Once the CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer is known for his big personality and enthusiastic presentations at Microsoft events. His first job may provide a clue to his “sweet side.” He worked as an assistant product manager for Duncan Hines Moist & Easy cakes and brownies. And there must have been something in the batter: His cubicle-mate went on to become CEO of General Electric.
The superstar rap artist told GQ that she worked as a waitress at a Red Lobster in the Bronx before she was famous. And she wasn’t exactly cut out for the service industry: Minaj was fired after she “followed a couple who had taken her pen into the parking lot and then flipped them the bird.”
The epitome of debonair refinement had some distinctly inelegant jobs before he got his start in acting. In his native Cincinnati, he worked as a shoe salesman and even as a farmhand in tobacco fields.
The president’s first job was scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu. Maybe he should consider sharing a scoop or two to boost his approval rating!
The Amazon CEO may now be an icon today, but he spent a summer in high school working for none other than McDonald’s. He told Fast Company, “One of the things that’s really fun about working at McDonald’s is to get really fast…See how many eggs you can crack in a period of time and still not get any shell in them.” Is it just a coincidence that he now runs a company known for speedy delivery?