CNBC.com asked some of the financial industry's most successful investors, analysts and market strategists how they earned their first paychecks as high school and college students.
As you'll see, it was often a long road from Main Street to Wall Street (and Silicon Valley).
Even before making it big in the financial industry, these people took jobs that required grit, perseverance and sometimes a big risk tolerance—evidenced by the work they took in their early years to pay for college expenses.
Just like most Americans, their first jobs out of high school often required long commutes, a stoic work ethic, and humility. Always thinking bigger, they took pride in their first workplace responsibilities.
Before making billions turning around struggling companies, Wilbur Ross received student aid and was a bursary student at Yale University. This required him to work a certain number of hours each week at the school for minimum wage. His job: taking attendance at large lecture courses.
Ross also joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, which paid a monthly stipend that he used for entertainment money.
Other jobs Ross said he had during his college years include parking cars at Monmouth Park Jockey Club, writing articles for Wall Street trade magazines, and eventually summer jobs at some money management firms.
"That is what convinced me to go to Wall Street," Ross said.
Known for his accuracy on the Street, Mark Mahaney also had college loans. His jobs included scooping ice cream at Swenson's in Washington, D.C., and mowing lawns.
He later worked for a couple of years in a special government internship program at the State Department, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Embassy to the European Union in Brussels.
"The job didn't pay a ton, but my expenses were very low," Mahaney said. "So, I was able to pay off my (education) loans pretty quickly."
His early endeavors, which included working for a foreign policy magazine and on independent research projects on the internet, eventually led him to a key position working with legendary Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker.
Bob Doll's first job was delivering newspapers for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin when he was about 12 years old. Doll worked for the paper through high school and only had two days off a year—July 4th and Christmas Day.
Doll said he spent 10 percent of what he made, gave away 10 percent and saved 80 percent for college.
His discipline paid off. Doll saved enough to pay a third of his college tuition to Lehigh University.
He's now regarded as one of the top market strategists on Wall Street—holding top posts at financial firms such as BlackRock.
Before Ann Winblad made her mark as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, she was a cocktail waitress called "Sunshine" at a Minnesota club called "Pudges." It was just one of her jobs while she was a student at the College of St. Catherine.
Winblad also worked as a bookkeeper at a local hardware store, a receptionist in a pool table factory and sold long distance calling plans for Northwestern Bell (now AT&T.)
"The waitress job was probably the best training of all—teamwork, selling skills, diverse personal interaction," Winblad added.
Nowadays, she is the managing partner at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
Jeremy Siegel endured long commutes and worked odd jobs such as filing papers in a law office in order to help his parents pay his tuition to at Columbia University in the mid-1960s. Back then, tuition was just $900 per semester. (According to Columbia's website, tuition is now $23,423 per semester.)
After graduating from Columbia, Siegel received a National Science Foundation Fellowship for the four years he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While studying for a PhD in economics, he earned extra money working during the summers. This included a stint at the Federal Reserve.
Eventually Siegel wrote the well-known book "Stocks For The Long Run"—which is considered one of the best investment books ever written.
Decades before rescuing failed Florida regional bank BankUnited in May 2009, John Kanas was a 19-year- old delicatessen owner on Long Island.
With the money he made working in restaurants and a $3,000 bank loan, he bought a deli while still a teenager. It was called "Mike & John's Deli."
The profits, combined with a partial scholarship, got him through Long Island University.
What happened to the deli?
"I sold it to Mike upon graduation," Kanas said.
Wall Street beckoned early for Tony Crescenzi. Just out of high school, he was hired by Prudential-Bache Securities in Manhattan.
"I was a so-called margin clerk and handled many aspects of the retail operations, including depositing stock certificates, and even going to the post office near the New York Stock Exchange to refill the postal meter, " said Crescenzi, who didn't take a single day off from work for the next three years.
To advance in his career, Crescenzi realized he needed a college degree. So, he enrolled at the City University of New York while working full-time in finance.
Later, he obtained an MBA from St. John's University. Nowadays, Crescenzi is an executive at Pimco, which runs the largest single bond fund in the world by assets and manages nearly $2 trillion for clients.
Years before being known as one of the most influential bank analysts on Wall Street, Mike Mayo was greeting customers in a faux cowboy hat at Roy Rogers.
It was just one way he earned money as a teenager.
While completing his studies, Mayo parked cars at a funeral home, was a busboy at his family's restaurant, a resident assistant in his freshman dorm and a mathematics teaching assistant.
In his sophomore year, he landed a position at IBM and he never looked back. The firm hired him upon graduation and paid for his MBA program at George Washington University. He is now an analyst for CLSA.