Follow the footsteps of those 10 multimillionaires who started as interns!

Posted by | November 28, 2013 | Tips for Interns

Taking on an internship is more and more popular these days. But did you know that ten of those famous multimillionaires actually started off as interns? It’s true! Taking on an internship allowed them to hone their skills and expand their networks. They didn’t always stay in the same industry, but instead used their internships as a springboard to learn more about themselves and their preferences.

Here are the people I’m talking about, in no particular order:

1. Oprah Winfrey

There’s no denying that Oprah Winfrey made a name for herself in the TV industry. She was the host of one of the most popular talk-shows ever but that’s not all. She’s also an actress, producer and owner of her own television station, OWN. Pretty impressive for someone who started off as an intern at Nashville’s WLAC-TV, don’t you think? Not many people have heard about WLAC-TV (an affiliate of CBS), but they most definitely have heard about Oprah.

2. Steve Jobs

That’s right, the guy who brought us our iPhones, iPads and iPods started his career as an intern at the tender age of 12. Yes, you’ve read that right, Jobs had his first internship when he was 12. He worked on the assembly line at Hewlett0Packard, after he called Bill Hewlett to ask him for some parts for a project he was building. That initiative definitely paid off, as Jobs found his calling and went on to become the most known computer guy, ever.

3. Andrea Jung

While you might not know who she is, you’ve definitely came across Avon products. Yes, she was the CEO of Avon, and currently serves as the Executive Chairperson. Jung took on a management internship with Bloomingdale’s. She certainly learned a lot during her internship, as before she became the CEO of Avon, she was the Executive Vice-President of Neiman Marcus.

4. Anderson Cooper

We all know Anderson Cooper from our TV screens. He’s a great news anchor and journalist, as well as an author. He has no formal journalism training, as he majored in political science while at university. Where did he do his internship, you ask? Why, at the CIA, of course. Yes, that’s right, Cooper worked for CIA during two summers of his college, but in the end decided it wasn’t for him. Instead, he went on to pursue his passion – journalism.

5. Ursula Burns

The CEO of Xerox started off as a mechanical engineering summer intern at Xerox. Her hard work and loyalty to the company paid off pretty well, as after 29 years of working for them, she was named the CEO. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Burns recalls her mother used to tell her, “Where you are is not who you are” and it seems those words spurred Burns on to become the first woman of colour to head a Fortune 5000 company.

6. Steven Spielberg

The guy who brought up many unforgettable movies – E.T., Jaws, Jurrasic Park, to name a few – began his career as an unofficial Universal Studios intern. He didn’t even get access to studio lot, but he didn’t let that deter him. He sneaked in to network with directors and crew, and it certainly paid off when one of his short films found its way to the executives’ hands. They were impressed and made Spielberg the youngest director ever to be signed to a long-term contract.

7. Jodie Foster

The legendary actress took on a summer internship at Esquire back in the 1980s. She had a 9-5 office internship and decided it wasn’t for her. Which, let’s be honest, was a good decision because she’s definitely good at what she does now – acting. If she had stuck with her job, we wouldn’t have been able to watch her brilliant performance as Agent Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, and that would have been a loss, indeed.

8. Kanye West

That’s right, the guy behind Yeezus was once a lowly intern like you and I! Where did he intern? West landed two fashion internships with Fendi and Louis Vuitton. West is not only an award winning rapper, he’s also an artist and a clothes designer. In 2009, West moved to Rome to complete an internship with Fendi and in 2011, his first collection for women was showcased at Paris Fashion Week. Guess once he decides to retire from music, we can expect his to concentrate full time on clothes design.

9. Virginia Rometty

Rometty studied computer science and electrical engineering while at college, and that helped her land an internship with General Motors Institute in Detroit. After two years of working for General Motors, she was employed by IBM as a system engineer. She continued to climb the career ladder until she became the CEO of IBM. In fact, she’s the first woman who ever held that position for IBM.

10. Bill Gates

Quite like his biggest competitor, Steve Jobs, Gates started his career with an internship. However, he interned at the US Congress as a page. Doesn’t sound all the glamorous, does it? After delivering messages, preparing the chambers for sessions and other miscellaneous administrative tasks, Gates said he learned one thing: to stay out of politics. That served him pretty well once he started building Microsoft and became one of the world’s richest men.

Do you have anyone else who you think should feature in this post? Let me know in the comments!


— Author: Lena Zwolak

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