stu­dent la­bor

Forbes - - FACT & COMMENT -

col­lege is ex­pen­sive. In 2016 the av­er­age new grad­u­ate from an Amer­i­can school left with some $30,000 in debt. The bud­ding en­trepreneurs who would even­tu­ally land on this year’s forbes 400 tack­led that prob­lem nat­u­rally enough: They went to work.

Af­ter im­mi­grat­ing to Amer­ica from pak­istan, Shahid Khan (u. of Illi­nois ur­bana-cham­paign, class of ’71) de­liv­ered pizza, su­per­vised road con­struc­tion and sold clothes at Sears. while hold­ing down a dish­wash­ing gig, he re­mem­bers think­ing: “I’m breath­ing oxy­gen for the first time.

. . . If you put $1.20 per hour in terms of pak­istan, you’re mak­ing more than 99% of the peo­ple over there.”

for­get cushy coun­try-club jobs; many fu­ture ty­coons did hard, dirty work. Ter­rence Peg­ula (penn State, ’73) worked in a coal mine, while

Ge­orge Soros (Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, ’51) worked part-time as a rail­way porter af­ter flee­ing hun­gary in 1947. Frank Van­der­sloot (Byu, ’72) was a cleaner in a laun­dro­mat (where he also lived, in a back room).

And what didn’t Ron baron (Buck­nell, ’65) do? he was a life­guard, ca­bana boy, emer­gency-room or­derly, wa­ter­ski­ing in­struc­tor, ice cream truck driver, ho­tel waiter (he briefly lived in the base­ment), frat-house dish­washer, bus­boy, fuller Brush sales­man and cad­die ($4 to $5 for a sin­gle bag, $8 to $10 for a twofer).

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