Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates got his first peek at professional life as an intern at the state capitol and in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I was a page down in the state capitol of Olympia, Washington,” Gates said in an interview with David Allison for the National Museum of American History. “Then I went out and spent some time being a page back in Washington, D.C.”
Internships remain a crucial way to advance your career, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). In fact, hiring managers say that interning within your preferred industry is more important than your college major or GPA, NACE's 2018 Job Outlook survey finds. “Employers prefer work experience, and in particular they prefer that the experience was obtained through an internship or co-op experience,” NACE research manager Andrea Koncz tells CNBC Make It.
Even if the internship isn’t directly tied to your dream job, it provides work experience that may help you understand what is most fulfilling to you, Koncz adds. That proved true for Gates.
His father was a lawyer and Gates, for some time, considered a career in law as well. His parents were friends with the late American politician Brock Adams, who recommended that Gates work as a congressional page. The following summer, a 16-year-old Gates got the chance.