First Seven Jobs

Bill Johnson
4 min readAug 13, 2016


Earlier this week I tweeted out my first seven jobs (like, basically, everyone else). Before tweeting, it took me a few minutes to accurately recall my first jobs. After tweeting, I started remember details about these jobs that had slipped from my memory. To help capture these memories and to follow in the footsteps of Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, and many others I’ll expand on my first seven jobs tweet with more detail here:

  1. Dog Walker — One of my childhood neighbors was a 3rd grade teacher that had 2 giant Bouvier des Flanders dogs. My sister and I took turns walking and feeding these dogs after school and in exchange we would get a little money and access to her expansive garden, koi pond, and basketball hoop. I distinctly remember that the dogs (“Soup” and “Bones”) had been taught or somehow learned to spell and you weren’t allowed to say or spell “food” for fear that they would get really excited and jump all over the place.
  2. Paper Route — Every Saturday morning at 5am, a stack of 175 community newspapers and a box plastic bags would show up at the end of our driveway. After my morning soccer or basketball game, I’d spend about an hour in front of the TV rolling and stuffing newspapers into these bags and stacking them into piles of 25. I’d load up the canvas shoulder bag with as many papers as I could carry on my bike and head out into the neighborhood dropping newspapers on everyone’s front porch. The fun parts were trying to find the most optimal path through the winding streets so I could get back to my nintendo games, being driven around in the car during the really snowy winter weekends, and using the leftover papers in the bottom of my hamster cage.
  3. Amusement Park Attendant — I said “amusement park” but technically it was called and “adventure park”. There were video games, pizza, miniature golf, batting cages, go-karts, and (my favorite) an golf driving range inside an inflatable bubble. Most notable memory was how sexist the jobs were in that all the women/girls worked inside at the video game and food counter and all the men/boys worked at the golf dome, go-karts, and batting cages.
  4. Data Entry — My high school soccer coach was also a doctor and knew I wanted to go to med school. As a summer job, I was brought in to help digitize lab results by manually entering them into the digital medical system in the office. Looking back, it is remarkable how early of an adopter the office was in moving to digital medical records. I worked with the son of one of the other doctors in the practice and was able to tag along whenever he had to setup or repair the system.
  5. Office Assistant — The following summer I was given the chance to see more about what“real world” doctor-ing is all about by working at the front desk of the office, working with insurances to setup patient referrals, and the occasional distraction of kids while they got their immunizations. I was able to witness some surgeries and stitches and learn a lot about the “why’s” behind exams, tests, and medicines.
  6. Web Developer — My first college job was working for the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology building their website. It’s way better now than what I was doing then. In between working on a turquoise G3 iMac I could see all the prep work that goes on behind the scenes for an exhibit as well as peek at some of the cool items in storage.
  7. Software Developer — My aunt worked for a lab affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that was primarily researching coagulation and thrombosis. I know nothing about either of those but they needed an inventory system to track supplies for their lab and I could do that. This was my first time using Perl and unfortunately got to build some flash-based software as well. The lab was moved to the Life Sciences Institute when it opened which for me meant I got to work in a fancy new building that was closer to the apartment.

6.5 Camp Director — I forgot about a job I had between #6 and #7 running summer soccer camps for kids. The camps were a couple hours in the morning for an entire week for kids between 4 and 7 years old. I grabbed a few soccer-playing buddies, ran through drills with all the kids, and played a LOT of head-catch. The high-point of the week for the coaches was always the kids vs. coaches game and the high-point of the week of the kids was obviously the pizza party on the last day.

I can see why this trend caught on so well, it’s fun to look back and bring some of these memories back to the forefront of your mind. It also highlights how much opportunity and pure luck plays a part in getting a job. Hard work and growth have helped me keep jobs and take on more within the roles but I did nothing to have an aunt working for a medical lab that needed help or a soccer coach that just happened to also have a successful family medical practice. As a hiring manager now, it’s very important to me that I consider this when evaluating past experience and how it translates to future growth.



Bill Johnson

Principal Engineering Manager for Azure by day, run coach for @teamchallengenw by night