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Oprah Was Once an Intern (and So Were These 4 Other Successful Women)


If you’re languishing in your summer internship, it can feel like a long time before you make serious (or any) money. But a look at the careers of several famous women shows that many of the most successful people started way down at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

The Jane Dough recently ran a list of 11 super-successful women who started off their careers making copies and picking up the dry cleaning. Here are a few you probably wouldn’t have guessed:

1. Oprah

It’s hard to think of Oprah as doing anything but running an empire, but in the early 1970s, while attending Tennessee State University, she interned at Nashville CBS affiliate WLAC-TV. After she dropped out, she went on to become the first female African-American anchor on the program.

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2. Jodie Foster

Most interns didn’t begin their careers acting in commercials at age 3, but Jodie Foster has always exceptional. At age 20, she interned for Esquire magazine, but quickly returned to show business.

3. Marissa Mayer

The CEO of Yahoo! got 14 job offers after grad school, in part because of her internships at Stanford and the Union Bank of Switzerland.

4. Ursula Burns

The CEO of Xerox is the first African-American woman ever to lead a Fortune 500 company. Her history with Xerox started in 1980, when she interned for the company while attending NYU.

5. Stella McCartney

If your dad is a Beatle, do you really have to intern? Either way, the connections probably came in handy when then-16-year-old Stella McCartney secured her apprenticeship with Christian Lacroix.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you have an amazing internship that made all the difference in your career (or a terrible one that wasted your time)? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Oprah Winfrey

(Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Jakarta/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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