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19 June 2013

What was your first job? Mine was stocking shelves at an office supply store when I was 15 years old. I knew I liked to write, but I didn't think of it in terms of a career. The first job that paid me to write was creating questions for a short-lived online game show. It didn't win me any journalism prizes, but at least it was a step toward what I wanted to do.

I asked around the staff to find out where the people responsible for these pages started their careers. As a college student, publications editor Sonya Weakley moonlighted as a newsroom copy runner — which she describes as "email with feet" — carrying hard-copy articles and page diagrams from one editor to another at a Richmond, Virginia, newspaper. The job led to an internship and then a better job at the newspaper.

After earning a graduate degree in international management, editor Andrzej Zwaniecki found himself the only 50-year-old in his group of interns at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "They looked at me suspiciously," Andrzej says.

In our cover story this month, we find out what kind of work several visitors to the United States did last summer. Their experiences include work in lifeguarding, television, technology, professional music and more. Working during summer isn't just for students. You'll also read about why Americans don't take more vacation time from their jobs. Finally, a look back at the 1963 March on Washington explores the link between holding a job and holding freedom.

— Mark Trainer, Editor

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