All The 2020 Democratic Candidates' First Jobs

Right now, they all have one job in mind: President of the United States. But like everyone else, their ambitions - and their options - were a lot more modest. Here are all the first jobs of each of the 24 candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination, from the teenage waitresses to the live-in nanny, the carpenter to the cabaret singer.

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  • Elizabeth Warren: Waitress
    Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP / Getty Images

    She may have spent the majority of her life mastering the law and navigating the intricacies of public policy - publishing a number of books on her areas of expertise in the process - but Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren got her start in the workforce in much more humble circumstances. At just 13 years old, with her family struggling to make ends meet, Warren took a job waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant - about two hours away from her hometown of Oklahoma City, no less. How did she land the job? Well, it was her aunt's restaurant. That was Warren's first official job, anyway, but she'd also been getting babysitting and sewing work for years beforehand.

  • Bernie Sanders: Carpenter
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    Long before he became the galvanizing voice of a self-described political revolution, Bernie Sanders tried his hands in a number of different vocations, struggling to find a permanent foothold before finally finding his calling in Vermont politics. Among his many early career choices - which also included freelance writing, pre-school teaching, and working as an aide at a psychiatric hospital - was carpentry. He tried his hand in that field for some time but, according to those who knew him, it was never the right fit.  “His carpentry,” his friend Denny Morrisseau said, “was not going to support him, and didn’t.”

    Another acquaintance, John Block, was more unequivocal: “He was a shitty carpenter.”

  • Kamala Harris: Pipette Cleaner

    Kamala Harris: Pipette Cleaner
    Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images News / Getty Images

    Prior to her ascension to the United States Senate in 2017, Kamala Harris had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the legal world, from a 26-year-old deputy district attorney to San Francisco D.A. and finally to Attorney General of the state of California. But her work life all started under parental supervision. Harris's mother was a scientist who specialized in breast cancer research, and she would bring her kids along to help out at the lab.

    “My mother had two goals in her life - to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer,” she said. “She would take us to the lab with her, you know, after school and on weekends. Little known fact... my first job ever was cleaning pipettes.”

  • Joe Biden: Part-Time Gardener
    Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images News / Getty Images

    More than perhaps any other Democratic candidate in the 2020 race, Joe Biden's career has been well-documented, thanks to his military service, his decades in the Senate, and his eight years as Vice President. His first foray into the workforce, however, is less known - except perhaps for his classmates during his teenage years. Biden attended Archmere Academy, a Catholic prep school that he acknowledges "[his] mom and dad couldn't afford." As a result, he got a job as a gardener at that very school.

    "My working there, it paid part of my tuition," Biden asid. "That was the first job I had."

  • Pete Buttigieg: Caterer
    Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images News / Getty Images

    Those who want a more adorable origin story of Pete Buttigieg's professional career might point to his early years taking care of his neighbor's dogs - it's certainly good work if you can get it. But the South Bend mayor and upstart presidential candidate didn't get a more grueling taste of the work life until his own uncle recruited him for a catering gig.

    "My uncle had kind of a catering operation," Buttigieg said on the South Bend Beat podcast. "So I worked at stands selling water and drinks at festivals over the summer."

  • Cory Booker: Housing Organizer
    Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images News / Getty Images

    After a prolific collegiate run that included a host of different degrees, a Rhodes Scholarship, and a couple of brutal years in the Pac-10 for Stanford's football team, Cory Booker didn't miss a beat when he took to the workforce en route to a successful political career. His earliest major professional endeavor was working as a housing organizer in inner-city Newark, starting a non-profit that advocated on behalf of the low-income residents of the area - where he himself also lived.

    “You can’t live in a community like this and not live with a sense of urgency,” Booker said.