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My First Seven Jobs

It's an Internet thing going around, posting on your first seven jobs (search on #myfirstsevenjobs if you're on Twitter).  Once Fred Wilson and Brad Feld posted on it I figured there was something of value beyond narcissism, so I figured I would join the fray.

One thing before I jump in, is that I've noticed the people I've seen who have posted were in some sort of professional role by about job five.  I'm sure that's not always the case but I did find it interesting.

 

Job 1: Dishwasher

I was 10 or 11, and my Dad hired me to help with cleanup after Holy Name Society breakfasts once a month.  I think I made $5, and thought that was a ton of cash at the time.  I also used to see them cook scrambled eggs in a big baking dish in the oven, which ruined that dish for me for quite a while.

Job 2: Camp Counselor

I got to supervise kids while I was in the Scouts.  I'm pretty sure I didn't get paid for this job.  The most memorable moment was when I had to put nitroglycerine under a Scout leader's tongue to prevent him from having angina.

Job 3: Ice Cream Scooper

I was the third of fourth person in my family to work at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store.  There were many memorable moments (like the time I went to work while I was developing chicken pox).  But one thing that stood out was seeing the tattoo on the wrist of each of the store owners--their German concentration camp prisoner ID's.

Job 4: Garbage Detail, Santa Monica Beach

My Dad's contribution to my college aid package was to get me a job with the City of Santa Monica, where he worked.  I worked cleaning Santa Monica Beach, starting as a "picker" walking and picking up trash, to working on the garbage trucks, to driving the trucks.  Over four summers of this work I learned and witnessed a lot.  Learning to drive a converted World War II truck that had to be double-clutched at low gears to take seaweed up the hill to a transfer station was quite a thrill.

Job 5: Hasher

My first job at Stanford was working in the dining hall.  I quickly earned a reassignment to the dishwashing area when I got into a argument with my roommate while serving dinner.  A memorable moment was when, during the Organic Chemistry term, someone created a chemical diagram for Turkey Tetrazzini.

Job 6: Research Assistant

I started this job for a small consulting company in Palo Alto while finishing up at Stanford, and transitioned into a full-time role after I graduated.  I knew how to program statistics using a "4th generation language" called SPSS so I got to work on a large dataset collected from the Bendix Corporation.  I got to learn about all sorts of multivariate statistical methods, such as factor analysis and analysis of variance.  I wrote the analytic methods chapter of a co-worker's PhD dissertation in exchange for weekly pizza and beer.

Job 7: Research Associate

I moved on from Job 6 to Allstate Insurance, where I carried out market research projects.  I finished up a project that would ultimately be used to justify Sears' move into the financial services business, a project that four other people had failed to finish.  As I sat at my desk seeing my work future unroll in front of me I had one of those, "is that all there is?" thoughts.  At that moment, the phone rang.  It was a manager from Bell-Northern Research, calling to ask if I was interested in getting into the technology world.

And the rest, as they say, is history.