How a 12-Year-Old Steve Jobs Landed a Summer Job at HP

Steve Jobs was the type of 12-year-old kid that went out and got what he needed so that he could to do what he wanted — not surprising for a man who passed away with a net worth of over $10 billion.

In 1994, Jobs filmed an interview where he commented on the kind of personality traits that make a person successful.

He brought up a story of the time when he was 12 years old and wanted to build a frequency counter, but did not have the right parts. Instead of wishing away his time, he figured out a way to make it happen.

He called up Hewlett-Packard co-founder Bill Hewlett, who was listed in the Palo Alto phone book, and had a 20-minute conversation with him. Jobs asked Hewlett if he could have the parts he needed, and not only did Hewlett give him the parts, he gave Jobs a summer job working on the assembly line of frequency counters. Prior to that phone call, the two were complete strangers.

While Jobs’ duties were minimal and mostly involved screwing down bolts, he was working in an environment where he was constantly learning what he loved.

In a 1985 Playboy interview, Jobs said that he was so excited about getting the summer position that he couldn’t help but tell his supervisor how excited he was to be working on his favorite thing in the world: electronics.

When Jobs asked his supervisor what his favorite thing to do in the world was, he looked down at the prepubescent Jobs and said:

“To fuck.”

Needless to say, Jobs said that he learned a lot that summer, and it all started with a simple phone call. He said what separates the people who do things from the people who dream about doing things is sometimes as simple as the initiative to make a single phone call.

Of course, not all cold calling leads to success, but if a phone call is all it might take to get what you need, then why not try? Make the phone call, ask for advice, and know that Steve Jobs would be doing the same thing. Jobs said:

“I’ve never found anyone who didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help.”

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