Make It New Grads

Self-made millionaire: Get an internship and don't worry about the money

Sidney Torres of "The Deed"
Maarten de Boer/NBC | Getty Images

In honor of graduation season, CNBC Make It is rolling out the speeches and pieces of advice that America's leaders are most excited to share with the Class of 2017, using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.

Self-made millionaire and host of CNBC's "The Deed" Sidney Torres has some blunt advice for young people entering the workforce: "Start from the bottom. Don't let your ego get in the way."

When you're starting your career, whether out of high school or college, "intern in the industry you want to be in," he tells CNBC. "Don't worry about what you're getting paid."

Torres, who dropped out of college after a month to pursue a career in the music industry, did just that: He started from the bottom at a radio station in Baton Rouge. It was a good way of getting his foot in the door, he tells CNBC, and it led to the opportunity to work as Lenny Kravitz's personal assistant.

This is what college graduates need to hear
This is what college graduates need to hear

Interning allows you to determine whether or not you're cut out for the job you think you want, he says. Torres, who was eventually fired by Kravitz, learned that he wasn't as passionate about the music industry as he thought.

Forced to reset, Torres changed course. He picked up a low paying job at a construction company and, shortly afterwards, started building his real estate portfolio. Since then, he has developed over $250 million in commercial and residential properties.

Torres isn't the only successful person who advises putting money on the back burner when you're young. ESPN sports business analyst Darren Rovell says that one of the most effective ways to further your career is to work for free. He told fans on Twitter: "If you don't work for free, you often can never prove value to the most important people."

Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella has a similar perspective. As he told fans on Twitter: "Look for internships. Don't worry about the money. Work hard and don't have expectations beyond being part of a team. Assume nothing."

Atlanta Braves' GM faces backlash over his career advice
Atlanta Braves' GM faces backlash over his career advice

If you can make ends meet while interning for little to no money, the financial sacrifices up front can lead to invaluable long-term opportunities, Rovell, Coppolella and Torres say. That is, so long as you make the most out of your internship.

"You've got to ask questions. You've got to be engaged," says Torres. "Every day, you want to go into your internship as a light, dry sponge and come out as a soaking wet sponge, full of information."

Look for more pieces of advice from leaders like Melinda Gates, Dave Ramsey and others, and follow along with the series, as well as other content relating to the Class of 2017, on social media using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.

See also:

Mark Cuban, Melinda Gates, Dave Ramsey and others will offer advice to new grads

Mark Cuban gives his 3 best pieces of advice for college grads

4 books every new college grad needs to have on their shelf

Mark Cuban’s best advice for college grads
Mark Cuban’s best advice for college grads