Summer jobs are a key part of growing up. For many young people, it's their first taste of what it's like to work – and if they're lucky, it gives them a chance to develop skills that stick with them throughout their careers.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which has teamed up with the Citi Foundation to launch a free youth summer entrepreneurship program called MakeYourJob, rounded up seven established entrepreneurs and asked them to share their summer job stories. Now, we want to hear yours. Tell us about your favorite or most memorable summer job in the comments section below.
From lifeguarding to hauling trash, here is what working summer jobs taught these entrepreneurs:
Image credit: Daymond John
Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing and celebrity entrepreneur on ABC’s Shark Tank
The summer job that was most important to me was when I was a foot messenger for First Boston. I was delivering packages all over the city and learned the value of responsibility. While I was just a small piece to the puzzle, I was still vital for the firm to operate and a lot of others' business depended on me. It also exposed me to a corporate work environment that I had never seen before. At age 16, it helped broaden my horizons and introduce me to completely new parts of the world that we right in my backyard.
Image credit: Tracy's Closet on Poshmark
Tracy Sun, Poshmark co-founder and VP of Merchandising
In high school I spent my summers as a lifeguard. Turns out, this summer job was one of my first lessons in entrepreneurship. I realized that during my off hours, instead of resting for my next shift, I could teach private swim lessons to all the kids in the community. Who doesn't trust a lifeguard to give swim lessons? These private lessons paid 5 times more than the lifeguarding gig, so every day I was out there hustling to grow my client base. The lesson I learned at this early age is to not be scared to innovate and also to not be scared to hustle.
Image credit: Ethan Austin/Twitter
Ethan Austin, president and co-founder, Giveforward
My first summer job was in South Central when I was thirteen hauling trash from a construction site for my best friend's dad. First, I learned to treat everyone with respect no matter who they are because they might just teach you something. One day my best friend’s dad, Juan, invited a homeless man to work with us. We thought we knew what we were doing but apparently we were doing everything incorrectly. The homeless man ended up teaching us how to shovel with proper form and we worked alongside him the rest of the day.
Second, don’t leave a job half-finished. One day we thought we had completed our job of hauling trash down a flight of stairs into a dumpster. After we had already showered, Juan made us go back and carry down nasty toilets to complete the job. Looking back, it was a good lesson to learn.
Image credit: Adam Fridman/Facebook
Adam Fridman, founder of Mabbly.com
My first summer job was at a local gym which opened opportunities for personal trainers to start their own business by paying a monthly fee and building their own client base. It was my first entrepreneurial venture and I started running numbers: costs, revenue and profits. I was hooked. This job helped to lay the foundation for my future endeavors by offering real insight into the entrepreneurial world and showing me the value of hard work. It was intoxicating.
Related: The 5 Secrets of Great Bosses
Image credit: Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber, Founder, Young Entrepreneur Council, Author and Columnist.
At sixteen, I created my own summer job. When I was a junior in high school, I taught myself how to edit videos and photos, reading about the latest editing software and techniques. Knowing that I wasn't as experienced as many other video editors in my town, I started marketing my services for less expensive hourly rates in videography companies and asked them to give me a shot. I heard a lot of NOs, but in the end got a few people to agree. The result: I learned how to sell myself and my skills--as well as how to face rejection and get right back up to knock on another door. Years later, my summer job eventually inspired my first successful sizzle reel video production business. Today, the company's clients include many of the world's largest PR companies, marketing firms and global consumer brands.
Image credit: Noodle Education
John Katzman, founder and CEO of the Princeton Review, 2U, and now, Noodle
My first summer job was writing software for my dad's company, and it taught me two things. First, as I visited with friends at their jobs, that small companies were more fun. Second, that I loved my dad, but would never work for him again; my brother joined the company, and I went off to grow my own.
Image credit: Alexander Ljung/Facebook
Alexander Ljung, founder of SoundCloud
When I was in school, I worked two summers at a construction site in Sweden assisting with fitting ventilation systems. This job taught me two important life lessons. Firstly, construction workers start at 5am! It's surprising how much you can accomplish with an early start to the day. Secondly, any system can always be improved. During my limited time onsite, I was able to inspire the ventilation team to improve the efficiency of installation with some simple changes to how they approached the job. I can remember drawing out my idea for the crew on sheet metal in the construction yard.
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