Not So Straight Path To A Dream Job (U.S. President)

By Julie Rains on 6 May 2008 2 comments
Photo: dcJohn

Once upon a time (aka when I was a kid), the job of U.S. President was deemed the ultimate career destination. Considering the careers of the current contenders (Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain) has helped me to see that the path to success may not be a straight one. What are the career-building lessons among those who aspire to world leader?

Earn a degree (or two) from an elite college or university

Choose a well-educated partner

  • Barack Obama – wife graduated cum laude from Princeton University and earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School
  • Hillary Clinton – husband holds Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and J.D. from Yale Law School
  • John McCain – wife earned B.A., Education and M.A., Special Education from the University of Southern California

Let your spouse earn more than you sometimes

  • Barack Obama – his 2006 salary as Senator was $116,000 less than hers as administrator for the University of Chicago Medical Center
  • Hillary Clinton -  she out-earned her husband when he was Governor of Arkansas and she was a partner with a law firm but now she pulls in much less than husband, former President Clinton, who gets paid $75,000-$450,000 for speaking engagements (each time)
  • John McCain – his wife is Chairman of the Board of Hensley, third largest Anheuser-Busch wholesaler in the USA and controls millions of dollars in family assets

Don’t stay in the same job forever; nearly every job should be a stepping stone to something greater

  • Barack Obama: Research Associate, Business International Corporation; Community Organizer, New York Public Interest Research Group; Associate Attorney, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland; Instructor, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago Law School; Illinois Senator; U.S. Senator
  • Hillary Clinton: Impeachment Inquiry Staff, Judiciary Committee, House of Representatives; Instructor, University of Arkansas School of Law; Attorney/Partner, Rose Law Firm; U.S. Senator
  • John McCain: Pilot/Officer, U.S. Navy; Director, Navy Senate Liaison Office; Vice President, Hensley & Company; U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. Senator

Find sources of income outside of your day job, which may boost your name recognition and give you money to fund future projects

  • Barack Obama - has reaped millions from his books Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope
  • Hillary Clinton – has made over $10 million from her book Living History
  • John McCain – has a U.S. Navy pension and has written Faith of My Fathers and several other books with Mark Salter

Never give up

I truly have no idea which one of these candidates will make it to the White House. There is definitely a common thread of public service and, interestingly, in this election, book authoring. Still, it seems that a dream job can be attained by leveraging varied experiences rather than following a direct, uninterrupted path to the top.

Additional Sources: 2008 Election Coverage


Financial Information on Presidential Candidates - Open Secrets (see Personal Finances databases)

Note: Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by first name. Detailed information on finances varies among media reports because information is often provided in ranges rather than exact figures.

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Guest's picture

This was a really interesting post. Thanks for the insight!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks Kaye for visiting - glad you enjoyed the post.