What #FirstSevenJobs Teaches us About Education and Expertise

Over the weekend the hashtag #FirstSevenJobs started trending as well known celebrities and experts tweeted out their first seven jobs. The posts showed us a few things; first, every path is different, and no background looks the same. Second, developing expertise usually takes years of work before any ‘big break’ appears.

#FirstSevenJobs is yet another reminder that there is no single path to expertise. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s pretty comforting to see how the path to accomplishment really shook out for a few people we admire. It’s important to recognize that these stories aren’t just anomalies in the world of success and accomplishment, so we’re providing a few more famous examples as proof.

 

1. Stan Lee: Creator of the Marvel universe
obituary writer
press release writer
sandwich delivery boy
office boy for a trouser manufacture
usher at Rivoli Theater
newspaper salesman
assistant at Timely Comics (which would evolve into Marvel Comics by the 1960’s)

2. Martha Stewart
babysitter
model
stockbroker
caterer
cookbook author
newspaper columnist

3. Harland Sanders
horse carriage painter
farmhand
conductor for the streetcar company
teamster in the Army
blacksmith’s helper
ash pan cleaner for the Northern Alabama Railroad
fireman (steam engine stoker)
laborer for Norfold Western Railway
lawyer
laborer for Pennsylvania Railroad
life insurance salesman
ferry boat company owner
Secretary for the Chamber of Commerce in Columbus
started an acetylene lamp company
tire salesman
service station manager
Kentucky colonel
motel and restaurant Owner
assistant cafeteria manager
Kentucky Colonel
franchiser

4. Jan Koum: Founder of WhatsApp
cleaner at a grocery store
self taught engineer
security tester at Ernst & Young
infrastructure engineer
advertising system inspector at Yahoo
advertising platform team at Yahoo
WhatsApp founder

5. Julia Child
copywriter
local publication writer
advertister
typist for US information Agency in Washington DC
research assistant in the Secret Intelligence Division
researcher (developing shark repellent)
handled highly classified information for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services)
Chief of the OSS Registry
Cooking student

#FirstSevenJobs teaches us to be willing to work to get where we want to go, that it’s normal to forge a unique path to expertise, and it’s never too late to learn. What were your #FirstSevenJobs? Share them with us on Twitter @degreed and check out The Degreed Manifesto video below, which shows expertise in action:

Written by Caitlin Probst