I am thankful for my experience with the Southwestern Advantage internship program. I am thankful for all of my peers and mentors that have helped me grow into the man I am today.
There is one instance that I remember realizing that my mentors truly cared about me as a human being. In April of 2010, I sat down at a café at UC Berkeley to meet with the President of Southwestern Advantage, Dan Moore.
He knew that I was in a slight predicament because I had suffered from a lung collapse 8 months prior to that meeting, and I was hesitant to go out again to sell books door to door for another summer. I was given doctor’s orders that I couldn’t carry more than 15lbs, and the sample bag we carry from house to house is easily 15 pounds. In addition, I was told that I shouldn’t run, jog, or do any sort of strenuous exercises for about a year, yet I recalled jogging between every house the summer before. Everything seemed to signal to me “NO, don’t go out and sell again.”
I met with Dan anyway, expecting that he was going to try to convince me why I should sell for another summer, and why I should recruit a team to go out with me. I expected that he would tell me that there are many things that they can do to accommodate my physical situation. I could have a car, and a rolling backpack. I expected him to tell me that he had seen others go through the same situation, and how it worked out so well for them.
He didn’t. He didn’t do any of those things. For an hour, we talked about my health, and he explained to me that my health always comes first. A collapsed lung is nothing to joke about; it’s a serious situation. He said that of course he would be happy if I went out for another summer, but that I have my health to consider first and foremost. He understood the value of a long term health because he has completed 9 half marathons and finished his first full marathon on Novermber 6th, 2011.
Meeting after meeting, I found that all of my other mentors cared for me the same way. Ron Alford, Omar Iribe, Jorge Penate, Aaron Ho, Calvin Chang and Brandan Tobin shared that same mindset. They didn’t try to talk me into another summer, and that’s when I knew I needed to be around these people more, because they genuinely care about my well-being.
That is one of the reasons why I decided to go back and sell again that summer. All of my mentors, even the President of the company (keep in mind 2500+ college students around the WORLD do this every year) was willing to take the time out of his day to meet with me, only to tell me that he cared about my health and that if I had decided to not pursue this program anymore that it would be okay. Long story short, everything went very well my 2nd summer, I decided to sell again a summer after that.
Thank you, Dan, Ron, Omar, Jorge, Brandan, Calvin and Aaron! I am thankful for you today!