If you’re in the middle of a tough summer job, or if you’re looking back at your past jobs with regret and hesitating to apply for the job of your dreams because you feel you lack experience, think again.
These ten CEOs and business leaders prove that their summer jobs played a role in getting them where they are today.
And your summer jobs, past, present, or future, can play a role in shaping your future, too.
1. Marissa Mayer – From Grocery Clerk to Computer Science Leader
“I learned a lot about work ethic from people who had been there for 20 years. They could do 40 items a minute over an eight-hour shift. I was pretty routinely in the 38-to-41 range. I was pretty happy about that. I have a good memory for numbers.
At the grocery store, you have to remember to charge $4.99 a pound for grapes and 99 cents a pound for cantaloupe by typing in a number code. The more numbers you could memorize, the better off you are. If you had to stop to look up a price in a book, it totally killed your average.”
“And I remember walking along, and somebody in the upper part of the upper deck would raise a hand and say, “I’d like a soda.” And I’m thinking, “This tray is unbelievably heavy,” and the lids didn’t work so well, and I’m going to walk all the way up there for 2 3/4 cents. And guess what? I walked all the way up there for 2 3/4 cents. It’s character building for yourself, but you also know what people go through in the world who don’t grow out of that, but that’s what they do for a living.”
He also understands the importance of respect:
“There’s another lesson I remember from that. You would be a vendor and you’d have to cross over from the main part of the stadium to the bleachers, and you’d have to go through the bullpen. The baseball players would be hanging out there. And I could tell you 40 years later, I remember which of the baseball players would hold the door for you and be nice to you.”
Working in a factory environment helped O’Brien learn the value of teamwork and respect.
He also became keenly aware of the importance of a healthy work environment:
“Everyone along the way had a role to play, and each part of the process was just as important as the rest. While I knew that this job would not lead to a long, storied career in guitar-sanding for me, I took great pride in my work, just the same. I credit the management at the company for this. They made sure that all of their employees felt not only protected — safety was a top priority — but appreciated and even celebrated. I learned a lot about how to establish and nurture a work culture, where everybody feels important and valued, whether they work with you for a few months or a few decades.”
O’Brien is now the Executive Vice President of Omnicom, a major software developer.
To this day, he enjoys hard work and understands what work isn’t always fun:
“There are a lot of things that go into creating success. I don’t like to do just the things I like to do. I like to do things that cause the company to succeed. I don’t spend a lot of time doing my favorite activities.”
“One of the things that you learn in a rural area like that is self-reliance,” Mr. Bezos said. “People do everything themselves. That kind of self-reliance is something you can learn, and my grandfather was a huge role model for me: If something is broken, let’s fix it. To get something new done you have to be stubborn and focused, to the point that others might find unreasonable.”
Jeff Bezos has left the ranch and is now the well-knownCEO of Amazon.
Even though he’d just graduated from Duke University, Dickerson needed time to think about his future:
“My first job out of college was as a Pizza Hut delivery driver in Raleigh, NC — and it was one of the most interesting jobs I’ve ever had. I had actually graduated with honors from Duke, but had zero idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated. I figured that driving pizzas around all over town would give me some time to think about what to do next and listen to some good music at the same time. The plan worked.”
So, if you’re stuck in a job that you think is going nowhere, or are frustrated because you think your past work experience isn’t relevant, remember that all jobs, no matter how small or unrelated to your chosen field, give you:
A work ethic
A chance to step out of your comfort zone
Look for the connections and positives, turn the tables, and help your “weird” jobs start working for you.
Remember – everyone has to start somewhere.
So keep setting that alarm clock and get to work.
What have your summer jobs taught you?
Written by Melissa Fragiadaki
Melissa is WiseStamp’s blog administrator and loves delving into topics of interest to small businesses. She’s an audiobook fiend, podcast connoisseur, and adventurous traveler who enjoys writing lines of code as much as she enjoys writing pages of fiction.