They may be famous now, but these ten actors, designers, and innovators were once nobodies like the rest of us! Everybody has to start somewhere, and they started at the bottom as (mostly) hardworking interns. Now TV stars, fashion designers, and successful businesspeople, these celebrities are living proof that hard work pays off.
1. Steven Spielberg
got his start at age 17, with an unofficial internship with Universal Studios. Although he wasn’t actually allowed access onto the studio lot, the young Spielberg snuck onto it anyways and even networked with different directors. His tenacity paid off when a short film he made was given to the right people and he was offered a seven-year contract by Universal heads that would kick-start his career.
2. Oprah Winfrey
did not always have her own talk show, magazine, and TV channel. Winfrey got her break in Nashville, Tennessee, delivering the news at CBS-affiliate, WLAC-TV. The program was so impressed with her work that she was promoted to a fulltime anchor-reporter. As a result, Winfrey became both the youngest news anchor and the first African-American female news anchor at WLAC-TV.
3. Steve Jobs
was 12 when he contact Bill Hewlett, President of Hewlett-Packard. Jobs spent 20 minutes on the phone with Hewlett to talk about machine parts and got himself a summer job with the information technology company. Already in love with electronics, Jobs spent his summer enthusiastically working with screws and frequency counters. It was here that Jobs would meet his future friend and collaborator, Steve Wozniak.
4. Betsey Johnson
helped her own fashion designing career by accident. After graduating from Syracuse University, Johnson interned at Mademoiselle Magazine’s fabric library. She sent a thank-you card to the magazine’s editor with a shoe drawn on it, having noticed editor Betsey Blackwell had shoes scattered around her office. Blackwell was impressed with the drawing, and took it to the art director. The magazine began giving Johnson freelance art assignments, which fueled the beginnings of her enthusiasm for fashion.
5. Seth Meyers,
the former head writer for Saturday Night Live, appropriately got his start at Comedy Central. However, he was not an ideal intern. In an interview, he admitted that while he worked hard for the first five weeks, after that he spent the bulk of his time watching “Kids in the Hall.” His work ethic must have improved between then and now, as he currently hosts the Late Night with Seth Meyers.
6. Stella McCartney
was designing and making clothes at age 13, already eager to be a fashion designer. She probably could have used her famous dad Paul as a jumping-off point to her career of choice, but instead, McCartney added credentials and experience to her resume the same way everyone else does. She fulfilled apprenticeships with French fashion designer Christian Lacroix, Savile Row, and Edward Sexton to learn about the art of tailoring. McCartney went on to open her own boutique and eventually her own fashion house.
7. Tom Hanks
interned for the Great Lakes Theater Festival as a college kind in Cleveland, Ohio. The theater major gained experience in theater production and grew a healthy sense of stage confidence during that time. His internship developed into a three-year engagement that was so educational, Hanks actually ended up dropping out of college. But he soon won a Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor after his performance as Proteus in The Two Gentleman of Verona, the first of many acting awards.
8. Lauren Conrad,
who became famous after starring on the reality show Laguna Beach, also starred on The Hills while she was a Teen Vogue intern. The reality show followed her to work at Teen Vogue, where viewers saw what employment at a magazine really consisted of from the bottom up. Now a fashion designer and businesswoman, Conrad started out keeping track of clothes, transporting outfits to photo shoots, and learning about the marketing and business ends of design. After she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Conrad went on to launch her own clothing line and beauty website.
9. John Krasinski
got his first big acting break as Jim in The Office, but he broke into the business with an internship on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. As an unknown college grad, Krasinski was promoted to Script Intern, which included regular office duties but also meant Krasinski got the chance to work closely with the writers of the show. Working as a waiter by day, he used his internship to learn how the studio world functioned, utilizing that information later as an actor, director, and producer.
10. Mindy Kaling
also interned under Conan O’Brien but unlike her Office co-star John Krasinski, her stint at the show was not so successful. As she noted in her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” she was less interested in working hard to impress her bosses and more inclined to follow O’Brien around. She enjoyed watching the show more than anything, and would stand in the wings observing how O’Brien didn’t eat the food he had baked during the on-air cooking demonstrations. Although no photocopying got done during that internship, Kaling now stars on and writes her own show, The Mindy Project.