10 inspiring stories of ordinary people who started their career as an intern and rose to CEO, Chairman, Founder of the giant organizations and ruled the corporate world of the world.
Once upon a time…
They were just out of Universities, ordinary passed out students like you and me.
Some of them even didn’t complete their graduation.
Every one of them started as an ordinary intern.
They had a vision. They worked hard. And they were able to rule the corporate world.
Let’s have a look at 10 inspiring ordinary interns who became most powerful CEOs of giant organizations and ruled the world.
BILL GATES – Microsoft
When he was 17 year old, he worked as congressional page in the House of Representatives delivering messages, preparing house chambers, and performing other petty administrative tasks. In 1975, Bill Gates, studying at Harvard, joined hands with Paul Allen. They developed Altair emulator which resulted a deal with MITS and partnership that named “Micro-Soft”. In 1976, the Hyphen was dropped and trade name “Microsoft” was registered. He then didn’t return to Harvard to complete his study. Rest is the history. Most of the time, as CEO of Microsoft, he remained the wealthiest person in the world.
STEVE JOBS – Apple
At the age 12, He had got his first job as an intern at Hewlett and Packard. His task was assembling frequency counters. He then got a job as technician at Atari. In search of spiritual enlightenment, he also travelled to India and stayed for more than six months. In 1976, Steve Jobs and his friend Steve Wozniak formed Apple Inc. At first, they started selling circuit boards. After couple of years, they launched a computer called Apple Macintosh. Then he went to smartphones, music, and animation. He was also a co-founder of Pixar and Next Inc.
JON ORINGER – Shutterstock
He got his first gig as an intern at Lokheed Martin. He ran his solo project that graphically displayed the location of satellite used by a cell network for more efficiency. After graduating B.S. in maths and computers, he created Shutterstock to sell his own images. Soon, the demand was so high that he started selling somebody else’s images. The company showed robust growth, from 35k royalty free images in 2003 to almost 20M in 2012. He then was recognized as Sillicon Valley’s first billionaire with 55 percent ownership.
STEVEN SPIELBERG – DreamWorks
An American film maker and a business tycoon is one of the finest film directors of the world. In childhood, at the age of 13, he shot a 40 minutes war film Escape To Nowhere and won the prize. At the age of 17, he got an internship at Universal Studio in purchase department. He convinced and showed his film to the executives of the studio and got 7 years of contract. Then he never looked back. He wrote, produced, and directed biggest blockbusters of the world with many Academy Awards and also became co-owner of animation company Dream Works.
URSULA BURNS – Xerox
When she was 22, Ursula Burns, mechanical engineer, started her career as a summer intern at XEROX. After completing her master degree, she permanently joined the company. She played many roles for many years including in product development and planning department. In July 2009, she was named CEO after Mulcahy. She was the first African-American woman CEO of Fortune 500 company. She is also a Board of Directors at American Express Corporation, Exxon Mobil. She also had been active in social work such as providing leadership to communities and NGOs.
ANDREA JUNG – Avon Products Inc.
Andrea Jung landed summer internship at Bloomingdale’s. After graduating from Princeton University, she started with I Magnin as General Merchandising Manager, which led her to an executive Vice President at Neiman Marcus, handling all women apparels and accessories. In 1994, Andrea joined Avon Products Inc as President in Marketing Department. After 2 years, she has been transferred to global Marketing and new business department. She was promoted to Chairman and CEO in 2011. There were many controversies followed her. She was also named one of 100 most powerful women and then included in the list of top 6 worst CEO by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
OPRAH WINFREY – The Oprah Winfrey Show
She started her internship at Nashville CBS affiliates. Then in 1973, she had been hired as an anchor. Born into poverty, she faced considerable hardship. It is said that she was raped at 9, pregnant at 14. Her son died in infancy. After third grade talk show, she has been transferred to top level arena. Then she launched her own production company. She reinvented her show The Oprah Winfrey Show to literature, spirituality, self improvement, and success stories with emotional approach. She was a host, CEO of her company Harpo Production, Chairman to Oprah Winfrey Network, an actress, an author, richest African-American woman, and to some extent the most influensive woman of the world.
GEORGE HU – Salesforce.com
George Hu, a Stanford MBA, joined Salesforce.com (CRM Company) as a summer intern. He slowly rose from Intern to Chief Operating Officer, the most successful intern ever. During his internship, he pitched an idea for a new product. The idea was accepted and by the time he joined salesforce full time, the product was ready for marketing. And he got an opportunity to launch the same product to the market. Today, Salesforce is a huge corporation with thousands of employees across the globe. He gives all credit to the working culture of the company, which is openness. And he thinks that the culture of openness has been survived across the globe due to technology advancement.
ROB CAVALLO – Warner Brothers Music
Rob Cavallo, basically a musician who played multiple instruments professionally, landed a job as an intern at Warner Brothers Music division in 1987. He worked with various renowned artists like Linkin Park, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Eric Clapton, My Chemical Romance, Kid Rock, Black Sabbath, and many more. Then after, he became Chief Creative Officer of Warner Brothers Music Division in 2009 and Chairman in 2010. He also co founded Level 7, a media company with co founder Henry T Nicholas III.
ANDERSON COOPER – Media
While at Yale University, Andy spent his summers interning for CIA. For a year he also lived in Vietnam and studied Vietnamese language. After graduating from Yale, he couldn’t make entry in on-air reporting. He started working with small news agency Channel One. With fake press pass he got entry in Myanmar. There he met with students fighting with Burmese government. He concieved a show based on this. Ultimately, he succeeded selling his own news segment to Channel One. In 1995, he joined ABC and in 2001 CNN, where he covered important stories such as Tsunami Damage in Sri Lanka, Cedar Revolution in Beirut, Royal wedding of Prince Charles, and Hurricane Katrina. And from there, Anderson Cooper became a household name in America.
All of above interns were ordinary people when they got out of universities. However they had dreams, they had ideas, they were passionate about their work.
They worked hard.
They worked smart.
And they climbed the ladder to the top.
They are and will remain an inspiration for all of us.