I feel bad for kids today who come out of college without ever having had a job. Those first jobs are a great way to experience the real world and help clarify your true talents.
I sold Christmas cards, peddled sweet corn out of a little trailer, cleaned fence rows, shoveled cow manure, bought and sold bicycles, waxed cars, and grew popcorn before I was 16 years old. By the time I got to college I knew I wanted to use my brains more than my muscles.
Here are just a few jobs held by people who you may know for other vocations today:
- As a teenager Mick Jagger worked as an ice cream salesman. After entering the London School of Economics, Jagger also worked as a porter at a mental hospital.
- Need a rat catcher? Call Warren Beatty. He caught rodents to pay the bills before hitting it big.
- Warren Buffett’s first job was at his grandfather’s grocery store, although he eventually worked his way up to a gig at J.C. Penney.
- Before rising to prominence with Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne worked in a slaughterhouse.
- As a young man, Matthew McConaughey wanted to get away from Texas for a while, so he spent a year in Australia. To support himself, he took on a number of jobs, including one that involved shoveling chicken manure.
- Jimmy Stewart was a man of many talents, from acting to being an Air Force general. As a young man, though, he had a job painting the lines on roads and also spent two summers as a magician’s assistant.
- Bill Cosby played four sports in high school, but he still found time to sell produce, shine shoes, and work as a stock boy at a supermarket.
- Tom Cruise’s family moved around a lot when he was young, but during one stint in Louisville he picked up some extra cash as a paperboy.
- Brad Pitt did all sorts of things to earn a buck while he tried to start his acting career, including dressing as a giant chicken to promote an el Pollo Loco restaurant.
Most early jobs are not a mistake or misdirection – they are simply part of the clarification process. But if a young person is “privileged” enough to not have to work they often and up with a fine education and a life that is off track. Or they discover at age 45 that they are living someone else’s dream.
Help your kids this summer by allowing them to work for the money they want for movies, cars and goodies. What they get may be far more important than a few dollars.