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Where Were They Before?

July 5, 2011

You may know where they are now, but where were some of today’s most powerful and influential people before the power and fame? Many held an internship position that created a foundation for their future success!

Bill Gates in WEF 2007 224x300 Where Were They Before?

Bill Gates: World Economic Forum

BY DAN DRULLINGER

When you hear the name Bill Gates, your mind conjures up a lot of thoughts; Microsoft, computer genius, intern. Wait, what? Intern? Believe it or not, one of the world’s wealthiest human beings held an internship position in his youth.

In 1972 Bill Gates was a congressional page for the U.S. House of Representatives. While it may sound cool, a congressional page is simply another term for an intern around Capitol Hill. Duties include everything from clerical work to manual labor. Just two years after his internship, Gates went on to co-found Microsoft, one of the world’s leading computer services corporation. Gates held many different positions within the company, including chief executive officer and chief software architect. In 1986, just 12 short years after the founding of Microsoft, Gates became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world (age 31). For nearly 14 consecutive years, Gates was the wealthiest man in the world. He held this position from 1995 to 2009 (except in 2008, when he ranked third – oh no, rough year!).

In January 2000, Gates stepped down as CEO, but remained close with Microsoft as a non-executive chairman. Since making a name for himself with Microsoft, Gates has gone on to author and co-author many books while also proactively running a foundation aimed at combating poverty and advancing healthcare known as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates is a pioneer in the interwoven lands of business, computing and technology. He has been touted one of the most respected CEOs by Industry Week. This is the same guy who once hustled campaign buttons on Capitol Hill as an intern. Sure, some of his duties may have been a bit different than yours, but hey — he was once where you are right now!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon Garcia September 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Wow. What a great example of what good it does to be an intern. Even though Bill Gates ended up pursuing something that didn't have anything to with his internship at the time, it just goes to show you that internships do give you experience that you can take with you for a lifetime. This definitely gives me inspiration as an intern because its easy to feel overwhelmed in the journalism field because there are so many reporters and journalists in the field and only a limited number of jobs. Thank you for sharing your research because it really can inspire people.

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Terrence December 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Congressional Pages are not interns. Most interns are college-aged students and are, for the most part, unpaid. Congressional Pages are juniors in high school and receive wages for their work. The Congressional Page program was disbanded in 2011 due to the nation's financial crisis. The Senate Page program, however, still exists. Please do not confuse the term intern and “Congressional Page” they are completely different. Interns work for a specific representative; Congressional Pages may be sponsored by a specific representative but they work for the House.

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