I am from Prague – Czech Republic where I am attending University of Economics. I passed final master exam in January 2012 and now I am just finishing up with my dissertation to graduate.
I heard about Southwestern Advantage for the first time in 2006/2007 when I was a first year student at university. A girl from South America who was studying in Prague came to our lecture and I filled in a survey. We met the other day to talk about the summer job in USA. I didn’t even come to the initial info session where I was invited; I just came up with the reason why I wanted to spend summer home and not to go to USA and send her a text message with an apology why I am not going to come. My plan spending summer home actually didn’t happen and I went to Croatia as a representative of a travel agency and lived there for 3 months. I have been working on and off part-time and fulltime since I am 14 so that way I became more independent and responsible at the young age then majority of my friends. My summer experience living and working on my own in Croatia when I just turned 20 helped me to mature even more.
Next school year friend of my high school friends Daniel Nikolov brought me over to the info session where was some British guy with weird accent talking about summer job in USA. I clearly remember myself sitting there and thinking: “ Selling books door to door in US? Are you kidding me? You people are crazy!” I left that info session before the end of the presentation. I spent summer of 2008 working as a receptionist in one of the Prague’s hotels working 15 12-hours shifts a month making quite OK money but having nearly no time to spend them not even talking about the fact that this kind of job was incredibly boring after couple of weeks.
The story continues in the semester of 2008/2009 when sometime in November I met Daniel at the friends B-Day party. He talked to me about selling books again and was so persistent that I could hardly say no to his invitation to the info session. He was coming into his 3rd summer with Southwestern by that time. I was 3rd year student and was already feeling the pain of not having any valuable working experience for my CV (resume) and I guess I just had a feeling I should do something different, challenging, exciting and scary at the same time. I came to hear the initial presentation once again – this time until the end, already decided I would go for it.
4 years later I am still working with Southwestern Advantage and getting ready for my fifth summer, bringing team of the most talented and positive people I have ever met, having loads of fun with students not just from Czech Republic but from all over the world I met through the years, travelling, working hard and most of all enjoying the freedom and flexibility which this job gives me. My friends don’t really get how I can work 13 hours a day or even longer but to be honest I am grateful I can work hard at young age.
The main reason I have worked with Southwestern for so long is the desire to grow personally and professionally. It helps me to push my limits further, appreciate more my family and friends back home, value the education I have been given and gain skills I wouldn’t obtain working anywhere else while studying university. My biggest challenge was to learn how to motivate myself. I am learning about working with people every single summer. It is sometimes very challenging to be able to look at a bigger picture and don’t focus on little things happening today.
Being part of other people’s success and having an impact on the people I work with is definitely one of the biggest benefits for me. Also: seeing the output of my hard work and being able to work hard at such a young age. Finally, I learned a lot about myself and about motivation, management, communication and sales. Most importantly, I met so many great people who will be my friends for a lifetime and had chance to visit so many cool places.
Southwestern Advantage taught me many life lessons through the years so thank you Dan for not giving up on me!