| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 1 Summer jobs: The very mention
brings up memories of low pay, long hours and sweaty, clueless
teenagers who don't really know what they're doing.
Memories like that are still vivid for some of the nation's
greatest achievers. Since last August, Reuters has been
gathering the first-job stories of successful Americans,
including sports legends, business titans and media superstars.
This month, to coincide with the nation's monthly jobs
report, we spoke to a few of them about those memorable summer
jobs that got them started.
JASON MRAZ, SINGER AND SONGWRITER
First summer job: Fence builder
"My dad was a fence contractor in Mechanicsville, Virginia,
so my first paying gig was building fences. It involved a lot of
digging holes, cleaning up construction sites and distributing
lumber. It was for $5 an hour, which, at the time, was more than
"It was hard manual labor, and I certainly would rather have
been at the pool with my friends rather than driving an hour to
some muggy, mosquito-infested area to build a fence around a
horse field. But I was getting paid, so I didn't mind."
"My dad was happy to have me working for him. We would just
blast the stereo all day, and I would sing along to the radio or
some mixtape I made. He would turn to me and say, 'I hope you
pursue that, and live your dream. I would rather you do that,
"That stuck with me, big time. That could have been my
future, and I could have easily taken over the family business.
I still build fences sometimes - but now it's around my garden,
and I do it with great pride."
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, MANAGING EDITOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS"
First summer job: Lawn guy
"I don't remember when 'work' started in my life. I caught
on rather quickly that it was the only way to make money: to buy
things, to take girls on dates, and to buy a car to take girls
"My primary summer job was mowing lawns. I was the lawn guy
for many of our neighbors. I mowed lawns through the intense
heat of summer, through rain storms, swarms of bugs and more
"I'm 55, so I don't mean for this to sound like 'tales from
our grandparents' but remember, this was before anything more
thirst-quenching than water, and it was before water bottles
"What did I drink from? A Thermos? Probably a garden hose."
"Worst of all: It was before the invention of the Walkman.
Your music had to be in your head, competing with the nasty roar
of a smelly one-cylinder engine muffled through a 50-cent paper
filter. I grew to prefer the neighbors who spent the extra on a
self-propelled mower, which were luckily becoming all the rage
in the mid-70's."
"I first got my 'working papers' at age 14 (the State of New
Jersey minimum age) and then I was off to the races. Real jobs -
two of them - one as a busboy at our local pancake house, the
other selling hardware at Sears. I always tried to convince
people to spend the extra on a self-propelled mower, knowing
there was a sweaty kid out there who would appreciate it."
DANA PERINO, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S THE FIVE, FORMER
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY
First summer job: Telemarketer
"Young people might not know what I'm talking about, but
back in the day, people used to call you up and try to sell you
things, and that was me. One product that I had to sell was the
Nordic Chair, from the same company that made the NordicTrack.
It was a chair you could put in your living room, but you could
pull out the arms and do all sorts of exercises with pulleys."
"It was so humiliating. You would be interrupting somebody's
dinner, and they would be screaming at you. I learned a lot
about rejection, and getting back on the horse every time. I
think that job was excellent training to become the White House
"Another thing that job taught me, is to be a lot nicer
whenever a telemarketer tries to call me. They don't relish
calling your house. They're just trying to make a living."
"I know I didn't sell many Nordic Chairs. I'd love to know
if anyone still has one."
RAUL DE MOLINA, HOST, UNIVISION
First summer job: Wrestling photographer
"Back when I was in high school, I used to be a big fan of
professional wrestling. This was in the days of guys like Bruno
Sammartino, and the Funk Brothers, and Abdullah the Butcher. I
would bring my camera with me, and take pictures of wrestling
matches and try to sell them to different magazines."
"I actually got a job with a Japanese magazine, a weekly
full-color glossy, because professional wrestling was huge in
Japan. They would pay for my trips and give me $500 per
assignment, sending me to places like Charlotte, Atlanta, and
Amarillo, Texas. I actually had to ask my mother for the travel
money, and then the magazine would refund her."
"All my high school friends were jealous, because here I was
going around taking pictures of professional wrestlers, who were
our big heroes back then. I did become a photographer later on,
working for the Associated Press. And when I started working on
TV for Telemundo, one of my first reports was on Abdullah the
Butcher, who came out of the ring and tried to grab me and
started bleeding all over me. It turned out to be a good story."
(Editing by Lauren Young and Bernadette Baum)