Job searching can at times be discouraging — not finding the right opportunities, feeling ignored and experiencing rejection. It’s during times like this that you can take solace in the fact that even some of your favorite stars worked hard at everyday jobs before stumbling upon their professional pot of gold. Before they stole the limelight, here’s what some of your favorite celebs did to pay the bills.
Barack Obama: Ice-cream scooper
Yes, he will live on in our memories as president of the United States, but before serving the public, Barack Obama’s first job was serving ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in Hawaii. And while he admitted it wasn’t quite as glamorous as being America’s Commander-in-Chief, it did teach him responsibility and hard work—and gave him a taste (pardon the pun) of what balancing a job and life would be.
Meghan Markle: Professional calligrapher
While auditioning for acting jobs, royal-to-be Meghan Markle moonlighted as a freelance calligrapher to pay the bills to keep her dream of acting alive. Since then, she has gone on to star in the hit USA Network show Suits, excel in philanthropic work around the world and gear up for her future royal responsibilities.
Ellen DeGeneres: Oyster shucker
You don’t always land your dream job right off the bat. Case in point: Ellen DeGeneres. Before becoming the reigning queen of daytime talk shows, she took on her share of odd jobs — including serving as a waitress, bartender, house painter and oyster shucker to pay the bills. In due time she launched her stand-up comedy career, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Madonna: Cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts
Before she reinvented the world of pop music, Madonna’s professional career can be traced back to more humble beginnings — one of which was as a cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts. Now instead of selling to lines of customers, she sells out venues, but it didn’t happen overnight.
Nicki Minaj: Waitress at Red Lobster
Before Beyonce entered Red Lobster into the pop culture lexicon by including it in her lyrics, an undiscovered Nicki Minaj moonlighted as a waitress at the seafood chain before making her way up the entertainment industry’s food chain.
Kerry Washington: Substitute teacher
Now she is a world-famous actress and advocate, breaking barriers on TV and off-screen; back then Washington made a difference in the world working as a substitute teacher in New York and teaching us that pursuing your dream job can be a reality, but there is also value in the jobs leading up to it.
Kanye West: Worked at the Gap
Who would’ve thought the music and fashion mogul would have his start at none other than the Gap, where he worked as a teenager. He has said that even though he couldn’t afford the merchandise at the store, the environment did get his creative juices flowing.
Jennifer Aniston: Bike messenger
Bet you didn’t know your Friend Jennifer Aniston did everything from earning an allowance cleaning toilets to being a bike messenger on the busy streets of New York. Talk about grit. Following her stint at more menial tasks as well as many failed auditions, Aniston landed the role of a lifetime as Rachel Green on Friends.
Harrison Ford: Carpenter
It’s hard to imagine Harrison Ford as anything other than Indiana Jones, but as it turns out Ford got his start earning money as a carpenter. Evidently, it was his cabinet-making job for an esteemed filmmaker that landed him a role in one of his films. Let that be a lesson to give every job your best — even if it may be a stepping stone to something greater.