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Ever since I was young, I have always been one to push the envelope and explore new challenges. Some of these have included joining the swim team, moving away to Central Michigan University, and joining Greek life. I found success in all of these areas, and realized I was able to coast by on my natural talents to be successful – so the idea of working with Southwestern Advantage for a summer didn’t scare me.

My student manager aided me in the technical skills, sales school in Nashville helped build my motivation, and my parents sent love and support from back home in Michigan. With all of these tools on my side, how challenging could one summer knocking on doors really be?

Spoiler alert: It was super challenging.

My summer selling books in Spotsylvania, Virginia was the most challenging, character-testing, fight-to-the-finish adventure I’ve faced yet. I learned more about myself in those twelve weeks than I could have learned by spending my time in any retail or corporate setting. Thanks to Southwestern Advantage, I’ve started applying what I’ve learned from the Bookfield in order to be the best version of myself every single day.

What we do isn’t normal, and it isn’t easy. We voluntarily work hard through long, hot summer days. We voluntarily face rejection and fear. We voluntarily work hard to help people. The constant ups and downs of my first summer showed me so much about myself. I learned how much family matters. I learned that I struggle with looking for easy ways out. I learned that sometimes I desire the acknowledgment and approval of others when it’s unnecessary.

I also learned I’m not a quitter. I am tougher than I ever knew. I am confident and brave. I am proud of who I am.

I felt such a high as I aided young people in their pursuit of college and made Moms’ days with my cheesy jokes and sincere compliments. I faced scary lows, as rejection sometimes turned into self-doubt. These challenges pushed me in a way that I had never been pushed. The challenges are what made the summer great. Working through new challenges allowed me to gain a more confident control in my personal life and school work. The Southwestern Advantage Program showed me the power of hard work and the capabilities I never knew I had.

As I look to the future, my resume after one summer is enough to make a potential employer’s jaw drop — but the resume and professional development is not the most important thing about this program. I have been blessed with a firm foundation to grow, surrounded by the type of people who bring out the best in me, support me, and push me to my fullest potential.

I am so grateful for my teammates; I have never been surrounded by such hard working and hilarious people who have grown to become my closest friends. I am extremely thankful for the leaders who were patient and consistent, easily the most influential role models of my adult life. I am appreciative of our fantastic company for introducing me to other hard working, driven young adults from all around the world. I am blessed to be a Bookgirl, and don’t you forget it