Sometimes you might think that tech giants have always been on the top of the IT world. Like with their IQ levels, all of them should have worked for Fortune 500 companies when they were 12 years old. Or probably they spent their young years hacking those companies. Some famous tech CEOs actually had such an experience, but most of them came from much more simple professional beginnings. Check our blog post to learn more about the early jobs of some famous tech executives.
Michael Dell, Founder and CEO of Dell
Job: Dishwasher and busboy
During his childhood, Michael Dell was so obsessed with the stamps that he decided to work as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant in order to afford his hobby. He was quite a hard-working dishwasher so he was quickly promoted to a busboy. Anyway, being familiar to everyone in Silicon Valley, he was poached by a Mexican restaurant, that offered him higher hourly rates.
Jan Koum, Co-Founder and CEO of WhatsApp
Job: Cleaner at a store
Jan Koum is a character of a rags-to-riches story in general. He was born in Kyiv and grew up in Fastiv (small city in Kyiv region), but moved with his mother and grandmother to Mountain View, CA in 1992 at the age of 16. At first, Koum’s mother worked as a babysitter, and he worked as a cleaner at a grocery store.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
Job: McDonald’s team member
Actually working in McDonald’s is a family tradition of Jeff Bezos, as both Jeff and his father worked there. Bezos became McDonlad’s employee as a teenager as he needed a summer job.
Journalist Code Teets asked Bezos some questions about his experience at McDonald’s for the book “Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald’s”. He told her that during his first working week, he had the wall-mounted ketchup dispenser in the kitchen (18 liters) jammed, and an unbelievable amount of ketchup was dumped into every single corner of the kitchen. As he was a new guy, he got a cleaning solution and heard “Get going!”.
Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo!
Job: Grocery Store Clerk
When Marrisa Mayer was 16, she worked as a grocery store clerk at County Market in Wisconsin. It was quite a simple job, but her managers were serious about metrics, measuring her performance. Mayer told that this job taught her a lot about family economics as every day she saw people who were making a decision what they were going to buy and what they were going to eat. Also she got a strange habit after working in the grocery store. To this day, Mayer is getting annoyed if all the bills in the wallet aren’t facing the same way.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
Job: Retail Clerk
Sheryl Sandberg, a creator of the “Lean In”, actually declined the first job offer from Mark Zuckerberg in 2007, though she’s now a billionaire with a part of Facebook shares.
When she was younger, Sandberg wasn’t so picky. Actually she names her worst job experience working as as a retail clerk for a clothing store in a mall.
Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix
Job: Vacuum Cleaner Salesman
Reed Hastings knows everything about how to build a successful startup, turning his small DVD operation service into a media giant. But you may be surprised to find out that Hastings worked at one of the most iconic American jobs before he became an entrepreneur. Hastings worked as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman which he calls “a fantastic introduction to sales”. Also at the same time he did a master’s degree in computer science at Stanford.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube
Job: Restaurant Hostess
Wojcicki was with Google from the very beginning. Actually, Sergey Brin and Larry Page rented her garage as a first office for Google. She has grown professionally and now she’s a CEO of Youtube.
But before that her first job was not so interesting. Wojcicki worked as a restaurant hostess when she was 14.
Tony Fadell, Founder and CEO of Next Labs
Job: Eggs Seller
Tony Fadell is a master at bringing innovative products on the market. At Apple, he helped to create iPod before moving to start his own company, Nest. It was acquired by Google in 2014 for $3.2 billion.
But when Fadell was a kid, he sold a very interesting product. His first job (when he was 8 years old) was selling eggs. Who knows, probably this job inspired to call his company Nest?
Michael Bloomberg, CEO of Bloomberg and former mayor of New York City
Job: Parking Lot Attendant
Most likely, Michael Bloomberg has a personal driver now, but when he was a college student, he used to park other people’s cars. He worked as a parking lot attendant during the summer in order to pay his tuition for the Johns Hopkins University. And he is quite proud of this experience as he has stated this fact on his LinkedIn profile.