10 Celebrities Who Started Off Fetching Coffee and Being Under-Appreciated.

Being an intern is often a weird experience. Internships can be great or they can be dreadful. In the past, an internship was a pre-professional position that served as a training course. Internships also usually led to hiring an intern as a full -time employee after an internship ended.

Over time, though, the life of an intern has changed. While some internships are valuable in pay and experience, some are downright shady and illegal. If you’re going the intern route, make a wise decision! Internships can help you learn about what you love to do, but they can also teach you about what you’ll hate doing.

In an it’s-funny-how-things-turn-out retrospective, we’ll examine celebrities who put in their time as interns in interesting places. Learn how some of your favorite celebrities got their starts–or, in the case of some, how they didn’t. 

1.) Brooke Shields

If you can take your eyes off that adorable koala, you’ll see that actress Brooke Shields used to intern at the San Diego Zoo in high school. After the experience, Brooke decided that zoology wasn’t for her, pursuing a French literature degree at Princeton University and modeling, eventually leading to her acting career.

2.) Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga is the internship queen. She already completed one internship as a songwriter for Famous Music Publishing before graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Even after her career took off, Gaga is still looking for new learning experiences, and continues to intern. Recently, she completed an internship with fashion haberdasher Philip Treacy, known for his striking headwear designs at the Royal Wedding.

3.) Conan O’Brien

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Conan first thought he would pursue a career in politics, and landed an internship in the House of Representatives for Representative Barney Frank. But being that close to politicians made him change his mind and he switched to comedy writing. We imagine he at least gathered some good material from his time in DC.

4.) Mindy Kaling

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Speaking of Conan, now that he’s established, he runs his own undergraduate internship program, where many actors and writers got their start. Famous Conan interns include stars of The Office like Mindy, John Krasinski and Ellie Kemper.

5.) Aubrey Plaza

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Aubrey Plaza interned in the real world before she moved on to her Parks and Recreation role…as an intern. Her stints included working at a sticky note company, as well as with independent film directors in New York. She also interned as an NBC Page after graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (a real internship and not just something made up for Kenneth’s role on 30 Rock). Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner also once filled the NBC Page role.

6.) Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino

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Donald, another Tisch graduate, started out as an intern at the Comedy Central Summer School Program. This led him to become a writer for 30 Rock, land a role on Community and become a musician under the name of Childish Gambino.

7.) Aziz Ansari

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Believe it or not, Aziz started out with a trajectory into the business world, with a marketing degree from NYU and an office-based internship. That office was none other than the bastion of social satire known as The Onion. Humor proved to be more fulfilling than marketing, leading Aziz to the comedy career he has today.

8.) Betsey Johnson

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Fashion’s eccentric darling broke into fashion by winning a guest editor contest for Mademoiselle magazine, the same contest awarded to Sylvia Plath some decades earlier. The actual prize was fetching a lot of coffee along with some writing, and might not have amounted to much until the tail end. As the internship came to a close, Betsey wrote her colleagues a thank you card with a little sketch of a shoe. The sketch impressed them so much that they set her up with a fashion artist, and the rest is history.

9.) Anderson Cooper

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Anderson Cooper didn’t settle on journalism as a goal when he interned with the CIA. Perhaps it was naive, but he found that the CIA, especially at intern-level, was far less “like James Bond” than he expected and promptly left. Look, even top-notch spies with weaponized pens need coffee, Anderson. It worked out for him, though. With only a fake press pass and plenty of charm, he traveled the world to find out as much as he could about global happenings. This paved the way for him to become the respected front line reporter he is now.

10.) Kim Kardashian

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That’s right. Even the queen of why-is-she-famous-again studied to get where she is today, and, for her… erm… career path, she studied with the best: original “celebutante” Paris Hilton. Kim was quite the learner, and, just like her mentor, skyrocketed to fame after a leaked sex tape. Is that becoming a respectable career these days?

(Images via Getty Images unless noted.)

Do these intern-to-celebrity stories inspire you to be the best possible intern? Are you the next big comedy writer, even though you’re currently reading from the mail room of an advertising firm? Don’t give up on your dreams, interns! It only goes up from here!

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