What 9 Highly Successful People Learned From Their First Jobs

Wise words from President Barack Obama, Katie Couric, Rachel Zoe, and more. 

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Photo by Jamie Kingham/Getty Images

Do you remember your first job? Or maybe you're working at yours now? Either way, it’s safe to say that for most people, their first job might not have exactly been their dream job—but most will also agree that they had to start somewhere to get where they truly wanted to be. With summer job season almost upon us, LinkedIn asked successful professionals in various industries—from President Obama to Katie Couric to Rachel Zoe—to write blog posts that recounted their first jobs and the early career lessons they learned as part of the site’s new campaign, “How I Launched My Career.” The new campaign hopes to help people achieve their dream jobs by using LinkedIn’s tools and content.

Take a look at some inspiring quotes below, then read all of the posts in their entirety on LinkedIn:

“My 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.” –President Barack Obama on his first job at Baskin-Robbins

“You do not know what door is going to open for you. Your job—and actually your only job—is to walk through every one of those doors with the intention to always give it your all, to always give it your best, and to always exceed everyone’s expectations.” —Suze Orman, television host, author, motivational speaker, and producer, on her first jobs as a waitress and stockbroker

“When you are young, the future is open—and so is the world. Now is the time to choose the rocky road instead of the paved path. You may have to move many obstacles on your journey to success, but when you arrive you will be much stronger for the effort.” –Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on his first job at the Korean Embassy in New Delhi

“My biggest piece of advice for anyone starting his or her first job would be to make sure to never act entitled. It’s important that no matter what your situation is, you work like you have only $5 in the bank.”—Rachel Zoe, stylist, designer, and CEO of Rachel Zoe, Inc., on her first job at Nine West

“Be humble and listen to the input of the people who are doing the job today. You can learn from them even if your job is to transform, innovate, or change the process. And what’s most important: By listening to your team, you get their respect, and that goes a long way toward building trust in the workplace.”—Ralph de la Vega, Vice Chairman of AT&T, Inc., on his first job in telecommunications

“As another generation prepares to enter the workplace for the first time, I urge them to follow Lindsay’s lead: Work hard, pay attention to the world around you, and try to make a difference. And in order to do that, make sure to make room in your own life to recharge.”—Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, on a standout former intern and employee

“It became so clear to me that everyone, no matter what their limitations, has something to offer. Part of our jobs as human beings is recognizing that. That’s what I learned that summer.” —Katie Couric, Yahoo Global News Anchor, on her first job at a summer camp for the blind

“Since the days of my residency program, I’ve thought quite a bit about what advice I have for incoming interns and young professionals. It’s simple: practice your chosen profession. Improve constantly. Seek out people who are willing to mentor and teach you. Express your freedom of speech and also understand your obligations.” –Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, on his student residency at Kaiser Permanente

“Active listening is a vital skill for any leader. It builds and strengthens relationships between customers and brands, or managers and employees. It helps leaders appreciate that everyone has something to contribute to the business, the brand, the reputation. I’ve carried this philosophy with me throughout my career.”—Meg Whitman, CEO at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, on her first job at P&G

For more career advice, check out expert tips to ace your next interview, or 5 smart strategies for changing career paths.