Get All Access for $5/mo

Tell Us: What Was Your Most Memorable Summer Job? Check out what these seven entrepreneurs learned from their summer jobs, and let us know what your early jobs taught you about business.

By Kate Taylor

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Summer jobs are a key part of growing up. For many young people, it's their first taste of what it's like to work – and if they're lucky, it gives them a chance to develop skills that stick with them throughout their careers.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which has teamed up with the Citi Foundation to launch a free youth summer entrepreneurship program called MakeYourJob, rounded up seven established entrepreneurs and asked them to share their summer job stories. Now, we want to hear yours. Tell us about your favorite or most memorable summer job in the comments section below.

From lifeguarding to hauling trash, here is what working summer jobs taught these entrepreneurs:

Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing and celebrity entrepreneur on ABC's Shark Tank
Image credit: Daymond John

Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing and celebrity entrepreneur on ABC's Shark Tank

The summer job that was most important to me was when I was a foot messenger for First Boston. I was delivering packages all over the city and learned the value of responsibility. While I was just a small piece to the puzzle, I was still vital for the firm to operate and a lot of others' business depended on me. It also exposed me to a corporate work environment that I had never seen before. At age 16, it helped broaden my horizons and introduce me to completely new parts of the world that we right in my backyard.

Related: 5 Things To Do Before Bed That Will Jump Start Tomorrow

Tracy Sun, Poshmark co-founder and VP of Merchandising

Tracy Sun, Poshmark co-founder and VP of Merchandising

In high school I spent my summers as a lifeguard. Turns out, this summer job was one of my first lessons in entrepreneurship. I realized that during my off hours, instead of resting for my next shift, I could teach private swim lessons to all the kids in the community. Who doesn't trust a lifeguard to give swim lessons? These private lessons paid 5 times more than the lifeguarding gig, so every day I was out there hustling to grow my client base. The lesson I learned at this early age is to not be scared to innovate and also to not be scared to hustle.

Ethan Austin, president and co-founder, Giveforward
Image credit: Ethan Austin/Twitter

Ethan Austin, president and co-founder, Giveforward

My first summer job was in South Central when I was thirteen hauling trash from a construction site for my best friend's dad. First, I learned to treat everyone with respect no matter who they are because they might just teach you something. One day my best friend's dad, Juan, invited a homeless man to work with us. We thought we knew what we were doing but apparently we were doing everything incorrectly. The homeless man ended up teaching us how to shovel with proper form and we worked alongside him the rest of the day.

Second, don't leave a job half-finished. One day we thought we had completed our job of hauling trash down a flight of stairs into a dumpster. After we had already showered, Juan made us go back and carry down nasty toilets to complete the job. Looking back, it was a good lesson to learn.

Adam Fridman, founder of
Image credit: Adam Fridman/Facebook

Adam Fridman, founder of

My first summer job was at a local gym which opened opportunities for personal trainers to start their own business by paying a monthly fee and building their own client base. It was my first entrepreneurial venture and I started running numbers: costs, revenue and profits. I was hooked. This job helped to lay the foundation for my future endeavors by offering real insight into the entrepreneurial world and showing me the value of hard work. It was intoxicating.

Related: The 5 Secrets of Great Bosses

Scott Gerber, Founder, Youth Entrepreneurship Council, Author and Columnist.
Image credit: Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber, Founder, Young Entrepreneur Council, Author and Columnist.

At sixteen, I created my own summer job. When I was a junior in high school, I taught myself how to edit videos and photos, reading about the latest editing software and techniques. Knowing that I wasn't as experienced as many other video editors in my town, I started marketing my services for less expensive hourly rates in videography companies and asked them to give me a shot. I heard a lot of NOs, but in the end got a few people to agree. The result: I learned how to sell myself and my skills--as well as how to face rejection and get right back up to knock on another door. Years later, my summer job eventually inspired my first successful sizzle reel video production business. Today, the company's clients include many of the world's largest PR companies, marketing firms and global consumer brands.

John Katzman, founder and CEO of the Princeton Review, 2U, and now, Noodle
Image credit: Noodle Education

John Katzman, founder and CEO of the Princeton Review, 2U, and now, Noodle

My first summer job was writing software for my dad's company, and it taught me two things. First, as I visited with friends at their jobs, that small companies were more fun. Second, that I loved my dad, but would never work for him again; my brother joined the company, and I went off to grow my own.

Alexander Ljung, founder of SoundCloud

Alexander Ljung, founder of SoundCloud

When I was in school, I worked two summers at a construction site in Sweden assisting with fitting ventilation systems. This job taught me two important life lessons. Firstly, construction workers start at 5am! It's surprising how much you can accomplish with an early start to the day. Secondly, any system can always be improved. During my limited time onsite, I was able to inspire the ventilation team to improve the efficiency of installation with some simple changes to how they approached the job. I can remember drawing out my idea for the crew on sheet metal in the construction yard.

Related: 4 Cellphone Etiquette Mistakes You Make Everyday

Kate Taylor


Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Side Hustle

'The Work Just Fills My Soul': She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure 'Dream' Business

Kayla Valerio, owner of vivid hair salon Haus of Color, transformed her passion into a lucrative venture.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.