I almost didn’t do it.
As corny as it sounds, Southwestern Advantage has been a life-changing experience for me. It has positively shifted the direction in which my life is heading, and I look back and remember how close I was to not doing it. My recruitment was not very typical as I was working in the toll booths on campus at Michigan State University when my recruiter, Kyle Peters, rolled through. His ticket was validated so I was punching him through and he asked me what I was studying at MSU and what I wanted to do eventually. I mentioned that I was a general Management major at the time, was trying to get into the Business School, and really had no idea what kind of career I wanted. He wrote his email address on a piece of paper and handed it to me to get into contact with him. I acted like I would email him ASAP while really I had no intentions to. One week later, he rolls through again and asks “Hey how have you been? I haven’t heard from you yet!” We agreed on a time that he has set up to talk to a small group of students to explain the Southwestern Advantage internship. I went, but quickly disregarded anything he was saying because a) I was not going to move away that summer, I wanted to hang out by the pool and chill and b) There is no chance in hell they were going to get me to go door to door. During this meeting, Kyle gave us students a chance half way through the meeting to walk out if we weren’t interested, I walked out without looking back and thought that would be the last I heard of the internship, besides, I was going to find an internship that is way better and do something much more interesting with my summer. It was already March, though.
A couple weeks later, Kyle rolls through the booths again and asks what I thought about the meeting, and I told him an excuse about taking summer classes and he went on his way. Over the next couple days I reconsidered and realized I really wasn’t doing anything productive with my summer as it stood, and I called him again. This time we set up a one on one meeting and went through the process this way. He called me back for a few more interviews and the last time we met, he mentioned to me “If 30 year old Jacob looks back on this summer, would he have rather done the internship or stayed at home?” That question is what hooked me and I decided to go sell books for the summer. After all, I’ve been above average in most other things I have done in my life so I can’t be all that bad at sales.
I had an alright summer, I did pretty well selling books but didn’t blow it out of the water either. Some weeks went better than others, but that is just how sales is, and I understood that. However, the things you learn about sales and business is part of what makes the internship worth it. I learned that my good weeks I was having much more fun with myself and with other families than the weeks I did poorly. I learned to control my attitude and as long as I went to the next house with a good attitude, whatever happened at the last house didn’t matter. There are also things I learned during my experience that I would not have had the chance to learn anywhere else. The good thing about sales is I’ll be able to apply the skills I’ve developed to an infinite amount of situations.
Yes, selling books does suck from time to time, but at the end of the day its totally worth it. I compare it to doing wind sprints or exercising, while I’m doing it I hate myself and would much rather quit and go home and relax. But afterward I feel much better for doing it and know that I’m in better shape than the next guy (good business metaphor.) I’ve also met some really good friends along the way and have met a ton of really cool students from around the country who also have sold books. I hit the sizzler milestone and got to go to Mexico and will be going to Nashville for a weekend here pretty soon as well. Other internships, no matter how well you perform, there is a set amount to how much you can earn, but not with Southwestern Advantage. Two great things I found and appreciate most that separate this internship from others: there is no ceiling as to how much money you can earn or how much personal growth you can take away from the experience.