09/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Obamas and Their Jobs: Barack Telemarketed the New York Times ; Michelle Worked in Chicago Bindery

By now, a lot of people know that presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) met Michelle at Chicago's Sidley Austin law firm office when he spent a summer there between his second and third year at Harvard Law and she was already at the Loop firm. The previous summer, Obama worked at Hopkins & Sutter, another Chicago law firm.

He's had other odd jobs, it turns out, including one he did not particularly like, selling subscriptions to the New York Times over the phone. Michelle as a high school student worked at a bindery in Chicago.

As the Obamas look towards new positions--he, the Oval Office; she, the East Wing, I wondered what other jobs they've held. Obama has said his first job was at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store. He's also mentioned that he worked construction. But he does not go into more detail in his memoir and in stump speeches.

Here's more exclusive details that I dug up, with information passed on from the Obama campaign in response to my inquiries:


*Obama this week is vacationing in his native Hawaii. As a college student at Occidental in Southern California, Obama returned home to Hawaii the summer after freshman year to sell island trinkets in a gift shop.

*Obama also had a summertime job at a deli counter in Hawaii -- making sandwiches.

*Once in New York to attend Columbia, one summer Obama worked for a private company holding a contract to process health records of either police or firefighters

*During one school year at Columbia, Obama was a telemarketer in midtown Manhattan selling New York Times subscriptions over the phone, wearing a headset. He did not like the job because "he worried that some of the people he called couldn't really afford the subscription."


*Michelle Robinson Obama worked at what was known then as Bob Goldman's Book Bindery in 1980-1981 while a Whitney Young High School student in Chicago.

*Once at Princeton, she worked for all four undergraduate years at the Third World Center on campus, part of a paid work-study program where she started a child care program.

*During the summers of 1982, 1983 and 1985, she was employed at the Chicago-based American Medical Association as an assistant to the executive director. She was a typist and helped prepare materials for the big AMA fall meeting.

*The summer of 1984 brought a new experience for Michelle: She was a camp counselor at the Fresh Air Fund (Camp ABC) in New York state, working with campers from the city.

*After her first year at Harvard Law, she was a summer associate at the old Chadwell & Keiser law firm in Chicago. The next year, she was a summer associate at Sidley, splitting the summer between

This post originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.