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Southwestern Advantage selected as a Top 100 Internship of 2021 by WayUp

For the second time, Southwestern Advantage has been chosen by WayUp as part of their Top 100 Internship List for 2021 by a panel of industry expert judges and thousands of public votes.

WayUp is a popular “job matchmaker” (job site and mobile app) for college students and recent graduates where they can create a profile to match them with potential employers based on the candidate’s profile, past experiences, and skillset. It also consists of resources including searches by company, industry, or location, as well as pro tips to help an entry-level candidate land their dream job.

In addition to a full listing on the WayUp site, an article on Forbes.com also profiles the companies featured on the 2021 list.

In 2017, WayUp created and launched “National Intern Day,” celebrated on July 29, as a way to observe the future leaders of the world – interns! According to WayUp, the intent behind the holiday is to “help bring attention to the challenges and inequalities entry level candidates face in the workplace” and help “companies see how investing in a diverse internship program can be an investment in the future of their company.” The Top 100 Internship Programs List recognizes the employers and organizations who go above and beyond for their interns. Southwestern Advantage was also recognized in 2019 as a Top 100 Internship. This is the fifth year WayUp has announced their Top 100 List.

Southwestern Advantage joins a very prestigious group of companies from diverse industries with that include Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Bank of America, Cisco, General Motors, Google, Facebook, IBM, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Twitter, and Unilever to name a few.

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Door-to-door Legitimacy Since 1868

For as long as there have been doors, there has likely been someone who knocked on them to make a sale. Door-to-door has long been a successful way to engage people face-to-face to share the value of a product offering – and it still is.

When summer approaches and door-to-door solicitors canvas communities throughout the US, various consumer advocacy groups release alerts for consumers for how to spot scams or protect themselves from being victimized at the door.

At Southwestern Advantage, we whole-heartedly support this. All bad actors who are utilizing the direct selling business model, marketing their products or services door-to-door, make it harder for the legitimate ones to grow with the seeds of skepticism and distrust having been planted.

What follows is a list of things the independent student dealers who participate in the Southwestern Advantage sales and leadership program do to protect the integrity of the preferred method of personal selling: door-to-door:

  • Preparation: Each student has over 100 hours of training prior to starting their business that includes coaching that goes beyond the sales presentation. Included are courses on safety, integrity and ethics, how to use social media for their business, and tips for professionalism. Also, during the pandemic, extra precautionary training was put together that included social distancing, touchless selling, remote selling, temperature check and hand-washing, and appropriate apparel choices (masks, identifying clothing) while running their business.
  • Follow all federal, state, and local laws: As it pertains to all laws, from paying taxes and obtaining solicitation permits to following traffic laws and the federal policies regarding direct selling business practices, the students who sell educational products to families work hard to stay within the guidelines afforded to them by the ruling governing bodies.
  • A prepared introduction and approach to each home: students are asked to memorize a prepared introduction that states who they are and what they are doing. With all of the tools and information available (see below), there is no reason for anyone to question the legitimacy of what the student is doing.
  • Business cards: Each student has business cards that contain their Facebook business page url for verification and company information if anyone in the community has a question about who the student is and what they are doing.
  • Facebook Business Page: All students have a Facebook page dedicated to their business where they may share info about who they are, how to spot them in the community and what vehicle they drive. This is a great way for the students to post pictures with their customers and let others know what they are doing in the community. Students also post pictures with local law enforcement they have checking with prior to starting their business.
  • Dual-sided photo ID badges: Students are provided with plastic ID badges so they may not only present themselves in a professional manner, but it allows the family to obtain information about the company. The badge has a lanyard that has the company’s website as well.
  • Optional car magnets: Some students choose to put magnets on their car doors thatshare contact info and identify the company for which they represent in terms of the products they sell.
  • Visitation to local authorities (police/sheriff): In addition to obtaining a solicitation permit if necessary, students are asked to pay a visit to local law enforcement in the area they will be selling. There is a leave-behind in which various information can be provided about the student and company.
  • Live with local host families: Students become a part of the community they serve for the summer as they live in the community, pay local taxes, and even eat and shop locally. Living with host families helps cut down on expenses and provides a safe place for the students to stay and store their belongings.
  • Distinction of representation: On the business cards, car magnets, and contract, it is clearly stated both the student and products are in no way affiliated with the local school district. The product is for use at home versus in the classroom.
  • Customer service: Students have a contract with Southwestern Advantage to provideassistance with the clientele they have who purchase their products – specifically in regards to the three-day cooling off period for cancellations and questions regard the products.
  • Dealer verification page: Each consumer cango to a webpage on the Southwestern Advantage site and enter the dealer’s first name, last name, or account number. It will pull up the student for the purpose of confirming their identity.
  • Contract of Sale: Each sale is a legal contract between the student and consumer. It protects both, as it outlines the terms of the contract and cancellation policies (based on the Federal Cooling-Off Rule) and guarantees delivery of the product.
  • Code of Conduct: Southwestern Advantage is a respected member of the community and state in which it is headquartered, as well as throughout all the many communities the students serve each summer. The company follows a code of conduct as a member of the Direct Selling Association and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Did you know? Southwestern Advantage has won many awards regarding the integrity of the program including the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethical Commerce and the Charles F. Kettering Award for the top internship program in the nation by the Cooperative Education & Internship Association.

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SOUTHWESTERN ADVANTAGE: KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL LEARNING AT HOME

It hasn’t been more pertinent to spend more time at home with our kids until we were forced to adjust to a new routine and turn to at-home learning. It has affected the whole family unit, and it can be pretty overwhelming to navigate. 

Advantage4Parents, your home for inspirational parenting provided by Southwestern Advantage, is focused on inspiring parents and elevating kids through proven educational methods. Parenting is hard! Sometimes we wish there really was a manual on how to properly raise kids. At Advantage4Parents, we’re working to give you the next closest thing. We understand that no two kids are the same and no two ages are the same, and that is what makes parenting so tough. From toddlers to teenagers, we’re here to help parents just like you stay on top of the latest educational trends, theories, and concepts so you can help your kids reach their maximum potential.

In one of our blogs, author Ella Herlihy shares some wonderful keys to successful learning at home. You can read her article below:

Has anyone seen a meme about a homeschool schedule for kids during the COVID-19 school closings? The first week after the national announcement to shelter in place, the internet lit up with lovely color-coded schedules broken down into thirty-minute intervals and featuring activities like eating family meals, working on individual school subjects for thirty minutes each, setting aside time for organizing and cleaning the house, and even learning to play a new instrument via YouTube.

Those of us who have been homeschooling for a while just chuckled at the ambition of all the type-A parents who created those lovely charts. By Wednesday of that first week, the same Facebook feeds were full of questions like, “What day is today?” and “Can we just skip breakfast and go straight to lunch since no one is awake before noon?”

Fortunately there is a good middle ground in developing a schedule for school at home and life at home together. It doesn’t have to be perfectly color-coded and managed at the half hour level. It also doesn’t have to be complete mayhem. Having homeschooled five children with an eight year age span between them and now in the thick of Corona-schooling myself, I am here to tell you, you can find a plan that works.

The first and most important key is flexibility. When you have all your people at home all day, usually Mom or Dad wants some semblance of order and regularity. But you also have to realize each of your family members has preferences and personality traits that make one-size-fits-all just not possible. Yes, they used to be fed and clothed and on the bus at 7:15, but that bus isn’t coming by and the motivation not to miss it isn’t there either. It may go against your nature, but having each child set a wake-up time range and a bedtime range that works for them is a good start to having a schedule that will stick. Before this virus, we all said we wished our teens would get more sleep; now we are trying to rouse them from bed at the same hour they used to get up. As long as they can accomplish their tasks for the day, you might let them sleep in a bit.

EXERCISE

Getting exercise is another important priority during this new shift in routine. A U.S. News review outlined the following benefits of exercise in relation to teen mental health.

  • Positively impacts levels of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mental health
  • Releases endorphins, the body’s natural “happy chemicals.”
  • Lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which improves mood.
  • Increases self-esteem and body positivity.
  • Helps teens sleep better.
  • We can all see how important these are for our children, so do whatever you can to encourage your student to exercise each day.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING ACTIVITIES

In addition to school and exercise, what relationship-building activities can you make part of the daily routine? Family meals, cooking together, doing chores in pairs or all together, writing a hand-written note to out-of-town relatives or even a neighbor, video-chatting with grandparents. Think through what you can reasonably ask your children to do daily and weekly throughout this unusual time. A checklist for each day has proved helpful in our family. Instead of telling each child the things they have to do each day, they have a list that includes the items above. When they have checked all the items off their list, they can rest, relax, have screen time, or choose their own activities. During this unsettling time, it is important to allow for down time for each family member.

Younger children may come to you regularly out of boredom. If this is the case, help them create lists of activities they enjoy, and when they are bored, ask them to choose from their list. If you have art or craft materials, old magazines, board games, or cake decorating supplies in a closet or garage, you could help them make activity boxes so they can choose a box and do what is in it.

Older kids will gravitate toward their mobile devices. Balance is key to screen time. Help them find ways to connect with friends that are interactive, not just passive like social media or mindless games. They could create a scavenger hunt to play with friends over FaceTime or Zoom. They could use an app to watch Netflix simultaneously with friends. No, it isn’t the same as everyone on the same couch with popcorn, but it still can feel more connected than each teen watching their own movie in their room. Paying teens to accomplish household chores, yard work, or things that never seem to make it off the “honey-do” list is a great way to get them out doing something, help them realize the value of hard work, and help you get some things completed that would otherwise be undone. We have even paid our children to take sample SAT or ACT tests or to read books we have found valuable.

This new normal requires creativity. Enlist your children in coming up with a schedule that accomplishes your goals and theirs, allows for fresh air and some exercise, and even fits in some family time each day. As we all adjust, we might even find some benefits in this time—like time for a family dinner together and a puzzle or game afterward.

Originally published in the Southwestern Family of Companies newsletter on April 1, 2021:

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Programs

The Southwestern Advantage Program Provides Soft Skills Not Taught in a Classroom

As the oldest entrepreneurial program for college and university students in the United States, the internship has always been open to students of all areas of study because of the skill sets the program offers that are not always taught in the classroom or other experiences related to the course of study.

While the program itself consists of college and university students running their own sales business, they are participating in an experiential education where they learn through “doing.” In addition, they can also receive up to nine college credit hours from a university in Nashville.

Soft skills can be defined as non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They can include how you relate to others in a working environment, the habits you develop, or even interpersonal skills. Engaging with others is a “must-learn” in order to be successful in both a career and life. These skills are desirable because they can be transferrable from job to job, as they become part of the person’s acquired abilities.

Examples of some of the soft skills students come away from the internship with include: problem-solving, gaining independence, actively listening, building communications skills, building confidence, learning the importance of habits and schedule, learning the value of self-talk, how to be organized, developing their work ethic, gaining leadership and management skills, how to deal with rejection, working in a team environment, and gaining entrepreneurial skills just to name a few.

This is important for several reasons:

  • When the students interview for jobs near their graduation from college, employers are always impressed because this type of experience sets them apart from their peers. This is due, in part, because of the maturity in which they enter the interview process and the things they have to talk about such as relocating to another state to run a business, interacting with thousands of families, and being successful in selling in such a challenging program.
  • Sales is something that resonates with all majors. The many byproducts it offers simply cannot be found in other experiences or internships. This is a type of program that helps a student become well-rounded in many skills that will be useful for their future careers, most of all starting with how to sell themselves. We have had many educators, politicians, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, authors, and engineers participate in the internship who have told us the things they learned they put into practice every day.
  • The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has an annual Job Outlook Survey in which they look at the key attributes employers want to see on a students’ resume. This comprehensive list of soft skills includes many of the ones listed above but also includes initiative, being detail-oriented, flexibility/adaptability, strategic planning, friendly/outgoing personality, tactfulness and creativity. These are all also skills students acquire with Southwestern Advantage.

https://www.naceweb.org/talent-acquisition/candidate-selection/key-attributes-employers-want-to-see-on-students-resumes/

Developing these skills at a young age will prove to be very useful when it comes to future work experiences and building relationships. Employers find these skill sets not only desirable, but necessary. Southwestern Advantage provides opportunities to put these skills into practice. Employers will not usually ask you to list your soft skills, but rather they will give you a scenario to show you have them. They are even more impressed when you can give them specific real-life situation in which you were able to use them to overcome an obstacle or successful communicate your position on a topic.