The Surprising First Jobs of American Presidents

President Barack Obama brings doughnuts and pastries to Democratic campaign volunteers -- not his first job, but close

President Barack Obama brings doughnuts and pastries to Democratic campaign volunteers — not his first job, but close. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

We’ve all had boring, frustrating, dead-end jobs. Well, most of us, anyway. These are first jobs, often. Jobs that we can get because we don’t have any skills and because employers have a hard time keeping them filled. The trick, of course, is to swing those first jobs into something greater by picking up skills along the way. For many people, these jobs involve washing dishes, mopping floors, or maybe serving people dinner. For others, it’s working on a farm or behind a cash register.

The binding thread is that these jobs usually aren’t very glamorous or fun. They’re a rite of passage, though, for each and every one of us. Even presidents.

While most of our presidents have come from prestigious, high-skilled vocations — they’re often lawyers, business executives, or professors, for example — their experience at their first jobs are a lot like everyone else. From scooping ice cream to collecting garbage from construction sites, here are the first jobs from 15 of our presidents (including our current one).

1. Barack Obama

  • Back in the ’60s, you could find Obama scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins.

It’s hard to imagine President Obama scooping up ice cream, but that’s exactly what he was doing in his younger years. Obama worked at a Honolulu Baskin Robbins. Of his time there, Obama has said that his “first summer job wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it taught me some valuable lessons. Responsibility. Hard work. Balancing a job with friends, family, and school.” It’s safe to say that all of that hard work paid off in Obama’s case.

Next up: Honest Abe’s first gig.

More Articles About:   , , , ,