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Executive Feature

The First Jobs of Execs at Lyft, Deloitte, Facebook & More

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated February 27, 2018

I was 15 years old. I had just gotten my driver's permit and I was itching to make my own money so that I could do what I wanted. You know, a little spending cash to go to the movies, buy cute clothes at Forever21, and grab a bite to eat with friends. So I decided to start working retail at GAP as a salesperson. My first job was fun, though not without some long days. To this day, I can still fold a perfect pair of jeans.

At Glassdoor, we interview executives and influencers every week. At the end of almost every interview, we ask "What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?" After letting out a flashback-induced laugh, interviewees reveal a surprising first job story. For example, SpaceX and Tesla's founder Elon Musk revealed his "first adult job was cleaning out the grain silos on my cousin’s farm in Saskatchewan."

Here are the surprising first jobs of executives and influencers at Lyft, Deloitte, Facebook and more. Remember, it's about not where you start, but it's where you finish.

Lynsi Snyder, CEO of In-N-Out
“You probably think it was at In-N-Out, and in fact, when I was 17, I was hired at the store in Redding, California, where my first job was leafing the lettuce. But before that, I got my actual first job, which was as a receptionist in a dentist’s office. I did the billing by hand on a typewriter, scheduled appointments and greeted patients. The dentist was a good friend of my father’s and remains a close friend to my mother and me even today. It was a special experience — so much fun because I was surrounded by great people and I loved the work, and it taught me how important it is to have a good team. When I started at In-N-Out, I took orders, served food to customers and learned to properly wrap a Double-Double, which is harder than you might think. The experience was priceless — I learned the importance of attention to detail and providing customers the product and overall experience they’ve paid for.”

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Emily Nishi, Chief People Officer of Lyft
“My first job was an internship at a Westin Hotel in their HR department. I saw firsthand how companies deliver great service to customers by ensuring their operations and organization function really well behind the scenes. Everything had to work together — from recruiting folks with a love for service, to how new hires were trained, to how tightly back operations were managed — even to how service areas were set-up. Witnessing what it takes to run the laundry room efficiently blew me away! Many years later, it’s stuck with me how important it is to be focused on being customer-centric – whether it be external customers or internal ones, like co-workers. I think it’s a great challenge to try and provide the best possible experience for everyone you work with!”

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Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot
“I was a paperboy — I delivered the Boston Evening Globe (which no longer exists).”

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Tony Delmercado, COO at Hawke Media
“My first job was at a local golf course that I begged to work at for more than a year, nearly every week. I was really young (12 or 13) and was mostly tasked with raking sand traps and keeping the drinking water coolers around the course full and cold. As I worked there longer, I learned the value of getting up early, showing up on time, listening, doing what you say you’re going to do and doing it well, working hard, and being reliable. Because of this, I ended up getting an opportunity to mow lawns, roll greens, change pin placements, and more. I was able to learn more about the actual course maintenance, types of grass and weeds, etc., which led to me start the lawn care company that paid for my college education. The most memorable moment was riding in the back of a “gator” that my friend/co-worker Tim drove into a pond left of the second fairway!”

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Rhonda Joy McLean-Craig, Associate General Counsel of Time Inc. & Author of “The Little Black Book of Success Workbook: Laws of Leadership for Black Women”
“My first job (after babysitting) was serving as the secretary in our small-town funeral home, answering calls and giving out price lists for funeral home services. I was ten years old and made 50 cents an hour. It was a great job as I learned to listen to what was not being said and to offer comfort as well as information, even at such an early age. I have had many other jobs – clerk I a five and dime store, selling parakeets, goldfish and making keys, teaching piano (I had to stop as I was a senior in high school and was not so patient with the young students – smiles). Every job I have held taught me important lessons that I have applied throughout my career as an educator, administrator, classical musician, government and corporate attorney and law professor. Our positions (no matter what they are) can teach us many helpful skills to help us move fwd.”

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Anne Wojcicki, CEO & Founder of 23andMe
“Growing up, one of my friend’s family owned a luggage shop and I often had the opportunity to help out in their store. I know a lot about luggage and pens!”

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Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte
“I worked in a pediatrician’s office in high school and college; but Deloitte was my first job out of college in 1986. Our scale, depth, and breadth, which I mentioned earlier, has given me so many opportunities to reinvent my path and stay constantly challenged over the last 30-plus years. I’ve had multiple careers within Deloitte.”

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Maxine Williams, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Facebook
“My first job was cleaning the laundry rooms at my college. When people were upstairs sleeping on Sunday morning because they'd had some big wonderful party the night before, I was down there doing like 7 am shifts picking up their dirty underwear they'd dropped on the ground and cleaning lint from the laundry room. It taught me that hard work gets you where you need to be. You do what you need to do to get where you need to get to.”

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Asher Raphael, Co-CEO of Power Home Remodeling
“I bagged groceries, worked for a painter, and waited tables. Those were my first three non-real corporate America jobs. What I learned from those is that I really enjoy people, but that I wanted my work to make a difference in people’s lives. But Power Home Remodeling was my first full-time job out of college. I’ve never written a resume. I got an interview through my brother. I got the job and I thought it was going to be a pit stop. I thought I was going to go to law school. That was almost 15 years ago now.”

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