Career Planning

Stars: They Intern, Just Like Us!

Elizabeth Hoyt

February 06, 2017

Stars: They Intern, Just Like Us!
There was a time where these celebs were just students, looking to get a break in order to pursue a dream job. Sound like anyone you know?
Though these names may be recognizable in most households now, there was a time in which they were just students, looking for their start. They had to start from the bottom to become the infamous celebrities they are today, paying their dues through hard work, dedication and, yes, interning. Then again, there is the occasional already-celebrity intern, like Kanye West or Ashley Olsen, who were already famous and took on internships.
Either way, celebrities are really just like us, having to pay dues when necessary to pave the road to success. You may be surprised to discover which top celebrities have held internships throughout their careers.

Oprah Winfrey

It’s difficult to remember a time before Oprah. Or, better stated, a time before Oprah Winfrey was Oprah. But, there was such a time (it's hard to think about) and that time was pre-internship. Oprah’s internship with CBS affiliate WLAC-TV in Nashville was obviously just the beginning. reports that from there, she was hired full-time as an anchor/reporter, making her the first African-American female news anchor.
From there, she soared to success in news programs, eventually landing her own national television spot, The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. (That’s her career summed up in the smallest of nutshells.) Her story proves that internships (compiled with talent, of course) do lead to great things and, in Oprah’s case, achievements galore, billions and worldwide success.

Bill Gates

That’s right. He may have always been a genius but, before this genius became the Microsoft mogul, he held an internship position as a congressional page for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. According to, “congressional page” is a fancy title for a Capitol Hill intern. Two years later, Gates made history when he co-founded Microsoft.

Kanye West

When you’re a famous rapper wanting to break into the fashion industry or simply bored while taking a six-month music sabbatical because you dissed Taylor Swift at an internationally televised awards show - what do you do? Intern, of course. It turns out that during his down town, Yeezy interned for Fendi.

Anderson Cooper

Before hosting shows on CNN, Anderson Cooper held a number of short-term jobs and internships, including one with the CIA. According to Cooper, in an open letter written on in 2006, “I know the CIA may sound more exotic and mysterious, but it was actually pretty bureaucratic and mundane, at least the little bit that I saw of it. By the end of the second summer, I realized it was not a place I wanted to work after college. We’re glad he didn’t stay because it would have been a shame to waste those baby blues on the CIA.

Tom Hanks

He’s one of the great actors of our time and it’s hard to picture him as an average intern. But, reports that, it’s actually an internship that inspired him to pursue a career in entertainment. While studying theater, Hanks met Vincent Dowling, head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, who offered him an internship. Hanks loved the internship so much that he eventually dropped out of school and turned his internship into a three-year crash course experience, learning different areas of theater production. He then went on to become Tom Hanks, the actor we know and love.

Betsey Johnson

Before she was a famous funky fashion designer, Betsey Johnson was a college student at the Pratt Institute. Her fashion career began with a post-college graduation internship at Mademoiselle magazine, which she landed after entering and winning the Mademoiselle Guest Editor Contest, according to Wikipedia. Within the next year, she was part of the youthquake fashion movement and Andy Warhol’s underground scene, with non-other than Edie Sedgwick as the house model for her first boutique in 1969. From there, her fashion career continued to rise and, in 2012, she celebrated 40 years in the fashion industry.

Steven Spielberg

Even as a teen, legendary director and producer, Steven Spielberg, was in pursuit of his entertainment dreams. The multiple Oscar winner got his foot in the door with a rather unusual “internship” arrangement, according to As the story goes, a family friend who was an executive at Universal offered to give Spielberg some work around the set – the only caveat was that since the internship wasn’t official, Spielberg could not be granted access to the studio lot. Unwilling to give up such a great opportunity, the young Spielberg snuck onto the Universal Studios set to bypass the issue.
Post-internship, Spielberg continued to sneak into the Universal Studios’ lot and network. Apparently, it worked because now he is Steven Spielberg, renowned filmmaker.

Lauren Conrad

You may have witnessed her internship as it went down on MTV during “The Hills,” along with her entire high school experience on the “Laguna Beach” series. MTV reality star, Lauren Conrad, interned with Teen Vogue while appearing on the “Laguna Beach” spin-off show, “The Hills,” and studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

John Krasinski

Well known for his role as Jim Halpert on NBC’s The Office, John Krasinski has also been in plenty of films, as well as taken on production, directorial and writing roles. But, according to, it took a lot of hard work to get there. After completing school, Krasinski relocated to New York City in pursuit of the silver screen. In 2000, he finally landed a script internship on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Seizing the invaluable opportunity, he used the connections he made on the show (and with NBC) as a springboard to launch his own career.

Ryan Seacrest

It wasn’t such a long time ago that television personality, host and producer, Ryan Seacrest wasn’t a household name. But, he’s been working long enough for it. In fact, Wikipedia reports, he landed his internship at WSTR (FM) in Atlanta when he was only 16-years-old. The internship opportunity launched his broadcast career, as it’s where Seacrest received much of his on-air training in radio. From there, he went on to study journalism at the University of Georgia and continued on local radio stations until he left college at age 19 to pursue his broadcasting career in Hollywood. In 2002, Seacrest received his “big break” when he was thrust into the national spotlight as the co-host (now, sole host) of Fox’s then-new reality television series American Idol.

Ashley Olsen

If you grew up as a 90s kid, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen should sound as familiar as peanut butter and jelly. While studying at NYU, former Full House star interned for fashion designer Zac Posen. The experience likely comes in handy while running the fashion labels, The Row, and, Elizabeth and James, with sister, Mary-Kate.

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari is a name we hold synonymous with laughter but at one point, the actor and comedian was too shy to admit he was a comedian. So, when he held an internship with the Onion it wasn’t in the writing department, as one would expect but, rather, Ansari held an advertising internship. Ansari discussed his internship during an interview with, “I interned there when I was a sophomore at NYU, and I just interned at the advertising department. I just hung around and played foosball, pretty much. Everyone was really nice, and I still keep in touch with a few people. It was a fun internship, but it wasn’t like I was in the writer’s room or anything like that. I was just going around and delivering checks and stuff.” We bet they regret letting him slip past their radar!

Tom Ford

Creative to the core, Tom Ford studied architecture at Parsons before making the switch to fashion after working a – get this - press internship at fashion label, Chloé, according to his Wikipedia page. Though he refocused his studies on fashion, he ultimately graduated with a degree in architecture. What’s a piece of paper when you’ve got talent like that? Ford quickly went on climb the ranks of the fashion industry and become creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), winning coveted fashion awards and bring the almost-bankrupt fashion houses back to unparalleled success. In 2004, Ford parted with the Gucci group and launched his own Tom Ford label. He has also dabbled in film, launching his own film production company and made his directorial debut with the film, A Single Man in 2009, to rave reviews and award nods galore. In an interview with Grazia, a UK magazine, Tom Ford discussed internships and hard work saying, “I think this is the problem today, people come out of school and think they should immediately be a star.” He continued, “But I think everyone should be an intern - you should sweep floors, you should pick up pins. You should run errands because you learn so much.” Well said, Mr. Ford. We could not agree more.

Sylvia Plath

Late-author Sylvia Plath held an internship at Mademoiselle magazine in 1953. Plath spent a summer living in New York City while working in the magazine’s Manhattan offices. Though fictionalized, her famous novel, The Bell Jar was inspired by her experiences during her magazine internship.

Alec Baldwin

The “30 Rock” star has often been rumored to have thought about a run for political office and now we know why: he has roots on the hill. Baldwin took on a congressional internship with the late congressman Rep. Jerome Ambro in the ‘70s as a college student at George Washington University.

Seth Meyers

The Late Night with Seth Meyers host and former Saturday Night Live Star got his start with none other than a Comedy Central internship – but Meyers didn’t get such a great employee review. According to, US Weekly, Meyers discussed the experience saying, I had an internship once at Comedy Central in college and they said I worked really hard for five weeks and then I spent the rest of it watching Kids in the Hall," he explained. "They weren't wrong." We’re glad he got his act together.

Sean Combs

While majoring in business administration at Howard University, Combs reportedly met fellow rapper Heavy D, who made some introductions on Combs’ behalf. Apparently, the networking paid off and secured Combs his internship at New York's Uptown Records, which he dropped out of college to pursue. This led to a talent director position and Combs quickly climbed the ladder finally leaving the company in the early 1990s as a vice president. He went on to start his own production company and solo career.

Conan O’Brien

The late night host and funnyman worked as a congressional intern for both Rep. Robert Drinan and Rep. Barney Frank in the House of Representatives. O’Brien discussed his internship experience and short-lived career in politics during an ”Inside the Actor’s Studio” episode explaining that he didn’t pursue politics because, “I didn’t want to work my way up.”

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham interned at independent publisher, Soft Skull, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to their interview with Richard Nash, the independent publisher Dunham interned for, “she[Dunham] was great as expected.” "You always want to feel like your interns are going to go on and do great things," Nash said. "I don't think Soft Skull can take the slightest credit for Lena's success, but it's always fun when interns become writers and publishers and things like that."

Steve Jobs

While in high school, Steve Jobs was offered an internship with Hewlett-Packard after brazenly calling president and co-founder William Hewlett to “ask for parts for a high school project.” Impressed by the student’s gumption, Hewlett not only offered Jobs the parts for the project, but also a Hewlett-Packard internship. According to, it was at that summer internship where Jobs met and became friends with an engineer by the name of Steve Wozniak. The two ended up founding a company called Apple Inc., maybe you’ve heard of it?

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