Here Are The Surprising First Jobs Of American Presidents

by : UNILAD on : 28 Oct 2016 21:23


Being the president of the United States is easily one of the most powerful jobs on the planet, fact.


So it’s easy to forget that those who’ve taken up this pivotal role in the past haven’t always been in Washington’s political bubble from the get go.

Admittedly, a fair few mainly plied their trade in law and the military, but there are some future presidents who had much more unconventional beginnings.

So without further ado we present you some of America’s most famous presidents and their first ever career moves. If anything, it may just give you hope that a weird career start doesn’t always mean it’ll stay that way.

George Washington

washingtonwashingtonWikimedia Commons/W Kennedy

What better place to start then the first ever president of the United States, George Washington.

He was barely 16 when he managed to bag his first job as a surveyor in Virginia and West Virginia working for Lord Thomas Fairfax. His job description basically involved him measuring the land in Shenandoah Valley for legal records.

Abraham Lincoln


Honest Abe managed to earn this nickname during his first job as a clerk in a general store in New Salem, Illinois.

It may have been a menial job, but it helped Lincoln build solid relationships with everyone in this tight knit community- something that came in handy when he launched his first political campaign for a seat in the Illinois state legislature six months later.


Richard Nixon


In the late 20’s, when Richard Nixon was barely 15 or 16 years of age, he took up the rather unglamorous position of plucking and dressing chickens for a local butcher.

Luckily for him he managed to move on pretty quickly from this and bag a job with the Slippery Gulch carnival as a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ gaming attendant. Something he later described as his favourite job.

Ronald Reagan


Another president who dabbled as a carnie was Ronald Reagan. As a 14-year-old boy, he briefly worked as a labourer for the Ringling Brothers circus.

Only 12 months on he had a much cooler gig working a summer job as a lifeguard at Rock River, just outside Dixon, Illinois.

Bill Clinton


Clinton is the youngest starter on our list, at just 13-years-old Bill started working as a grocer in Arkansas.


But Bill wasn’t happy settling with just that, so he managed to persuade his boss to also let him sell comic books at the store too- raking in a lot more dollar in the process.

George W. Bush


After graduating with an MBA from the prestigious Harvard University, George worked as a landman for an oil company.

His job was to scout out potential site for oil drilling, which George says was a lot harder than it seems on paper.

According to The Week, he said: “It was hard, hot work. I unloaded enough of those heavy mud sacks to know that was not what I wanted to do with my life.”

Barack Obama


In an interview with New York Magazine back in 2011, out-going President Obama said he used to work as an ice cream scooper for a Baskin-Robbins based in Honolulu.

And despite all the media opportunities which involve the president eating ice cream, he says his first summer job has pretty much put him off the stuff.


And just in case you were wondering about our two Presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, we found that out too.

Donald Trump actually did do something before getting that ‘very small’ $1 million loan from his dad to start his own business empire.

In an interview with Forbes back in 2006, Trump said:

I accompanied my father to his sites and would collect soda bottles with my brother for the deposit money. That was my first income. Later, I went around with the rent collectors to see how that worked. I learned to stand out of the doorway to avoid the possibility of being shot.

Meanwhile Hillary had several different summer jobs, but most of them were politically focused.


Going by these job histories, this current pair of candidates aren’t exactly going to relate to the ordinary American now are they?

Topics: Life


Business Insider UK
  1. Business Insider UK

    The surprising first jobs of 17 US presidents