Products Programs

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 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.

Products Programs

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.

Products Programs


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.


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.


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:


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.

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.


Southwestern Advantage U.S. Group 2020 Sales: Best in More Than a Decade


Related Articles

southwestern advantage

SEPTEMBER 2020 – The most common question Southwestern Advantage sales leaders heard from alumni in the spring of 2020 was, “Are you going to have a summer??” The question made sense as the world worked to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well, not only has there been a summer, but WHAT a summer it has been! Managing Director of U.S. Sales, Mark Rau, said it has been the best summer in average sales proficiency since 2005 for dealers from American colleges.

The improvement compared to last summer is also striking. At this time last summer, 12 different dealers had sold a total of 26 weeks in the Mort Utley Club, selling 1,000 or more units. As of this week in 2020, there have been 42 weeks in Mort by 23 different dealers. Last year at this point, 12 first-year dealers had reported 2,000 or more units in sales. Right now, 45 are at that point.

The plan laid out in April – that all dealers would attend “Virtual Sales School” and sell remotely using Zoom and other technologies during the first two to three weeks of the summer, then come to Middle Tennessee for an in-person Sales School before embarking to sell in states with relatively low rates of COVID spread – was implemented to perfection by sales leaders and student dealers.

By the time dealers came to the physically distanced Sales School held outside Nashville, they knew their presentations backward and forward (having done several through Zoom). They were acclimated to the success schedules of hours, demos, and attitude. They knew the products better than any previous incoming class, and there was a high level of camaraderie and mutual respect already in place. Dealers were taught appropriate physical distancing behaviors, furnished with masks, and advised to comply with local and CDC safety measures. Sales Leadership deserves credit for designing and implementing this plan brilliantly.

Because of the White House ban on issuing non-immigrant visas, announced in early summer, hundreds of dealers from European universities pivoted quickly into selling Southwestern Advantage products in England as well as products and services in their home countries.

One of Southwestern Advantage’s oldest mottos is, “Find a way.” Hats off to each member of their team for doing it yet again – in style.

Southwestern Advantage daily temperature check during Sales School, May 2020
Southwestern Advantage daily temperature check during Sales School, May 2020
In-person Sales School, with physical distancing, Williamson County – June 1, 2020
In-person Sales School, with physical distancing, Williamson County – June 1, 2020
southwestern advantage

Dr. Ralph Brigham Elected to Board of Directors of the Cooperative Education and Internship Association

Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019

Related Articles

southwestern advantage
Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019

Dr. Ralph Brigham, Global Director of Campus Relations at Southwestern Advantage, has been elected to the position of Vice President for the Employer Network with the Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA). He will represent employers’ interests on the Board of Directors, serve as a liaison between all the employer members and the Board, create forums to discuss ideas at conferences and through electronic means as well as provide opportunities to develop leaders within the organization.

For the past 18 years Ralph has been in charge of Southwestern Advantage’s campus relationships with over 200 universities in North America, Europe and Asia as well as being a certified life coach. He has been an invited lecturer at universities across the United States and in France, England, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Kazakhstan.

Dr. Brigham has served as the president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which includes about 9,000 careers center professionals and campus relations directors.  In 2013 he was inducted into the NACE Academy of Fellows, the organization’s highest honor. Brigham is currently serving as Professional Vice President on the National Council for Pi Sigma Epsilon, the only national co-ed professional fraternity in the fields of sales, marketing and management.

Prior to his time with Southwestern Advantage, Dr. Brigham served as the Director of Career Services at Montana State University-Bozeman for 18 years where he also earned his doctorate in higher education administration. Prior to that, he was the Director of Admissions and Registrar at Montana State University-Northern in Havre, Montana where he earned both his Bachelor and Master’s degrees.

southwestern advantage

Southwestern Advantage Service Projects Lead to Missions With Southwestern Travel

Southwestern Advantage Service Projects Lead to Missions With Southwestern Travel

Related Articles

southwestern advantage
Southwestern Advantage Service Projects Lead to Missions With Southwestern Travel

One of the key principles of the Southwestern Family of Companies Statement of Purpose says: “The power of serving others; what we do is important.” For a company that’s had an entrepreneurial program for college students for 152 years, service to others is one of the most important life skills gained.

Over the past decade, Southwestern Advantage has helped the young salesforce serve local communities in big ways. Recently, another service initiative has begun in the form of mission trips.

“The service aspect of what Southwestern Advantage does throughout the summer, on campuses around the world, and with their service projects on their sales incentive trips has led us to a new business offering,” said Terri Rickard, President of Southwestern Travel Group. “I’m excited to announce Southwestern Travel has partnered with multiple organizations to be able to offer mission experiences around the world, starting with Nicaragua, Ecuador, Greece, Ukraine, Mexico, and Guatemala in 2020.”

Offering mission trips was preceded by a spirit of giving, which has always been part of the Southwestern Advantage sales and leadership program. In 2011, Henry Bedford, currently Chairman of the Board, had the foresight to include service projects as part of the yearly incentive trip.

Here’s how it works: US students in the program can donate a percentage or give a one-time gift from their weekly profit. Student donations add up quickly. With this large sum, lots of good can take place in areas outside of tourist areas, where people are often oppressed and poverty stricken. This initiative was meant to offer long-term help to people with long-term needs. Everyone – leadership, staff, and students – realized there is more to life than just sun and fun on the yearly incentive trips. Rather than just leave our footprints in the sand, Southwestern Advantage decided to leave an imprint on the community.

Over the past nine years, incentive trips have been held in five cities across two countries. We have completed 27 projects and helped thousands of people. Recipients of the student leaders’ generosity have included orphanages, daycares, parks, schools, special needs centers, a school of music, a school for the deaf and mute, and a home built for a special family with difficult circumstances.

Southwestern Advantage believes in investing in a community or organization to help them help more people. To do this, we seek organizations and individuals who share the values of the company and are assisting with the long-term needs of the community.

In the last three years, Trey Campbell, Director of Communications with Southwestern Advantage, has taken the service project idea to a new level by taking student dealers on mission trips abroad. These trips are faith-focused and designed to enhance spiritual growth and change lives. There is a plan to add domestic missions in 2021.

“Both the service projects and mission trips bring about the best in our Family of Companies and each individual involved. To be able to help so many people and communities has been a blessing. Lives have been forever changed! From adding classrooms to get over 100 children off the streets during the day in Punta Cana, to helping a refuge add to their capacity to take in at-risk girls in Cancun, to building an entire home for a family who lost their parents and were living under a tarp… the values we say we live and work by in our Company Statement of Purpose is not just talk. It’s fact,” said Campbell.


For more information about Southwestern Travel mission trips, contact Trey Campbell at To watch a video of the Southwestern Advantage Service Project in Leona Vicario, Mexico, visit To see all of our service videos, visit

For more information about Southwestern Family of Companies Impact, click here.

southwestern advantage

Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019

Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019

Related Articles

Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019
Dr. Ralph Brigham and Southwestern Advantage have been selected as recipients of the 2019 Charles F. Kettering Award.
Each year, Cooperative Education & Internship Association (CEIA) recognizes one recipient of the Charles F. Kettering Award for excellence in industry, business, or government internship/cooperative education programs. CEIA is the national leader in cooperative education and internship program management.
This award comes with the distinction of being rated as the top rated internship/cooperative education employer in the nation providing outstanding resources and service to college students and the profession. Southwestern Advantage joins a prestigious group of past winners including IBM, NASA, Walt Disney, AT&T, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Bloomingdale’s, Ford, and General Motors.
For the past 17 years Dr. Brigham has served as the company’s Global Director of Campus Relations. In his role, Dr. Brigham is the liaison between universities and Southwestern Advantage in building and maintaining relationships with the more than 200 universities in North America, Europe, and Asia that have students participating in the program (over 1,600 campuses total in 151 years of continuous operation). He has been invited to speak to students at universities across the United States and in France, England, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Kazakhstan to name some recent countries. 
Dr. Brigham has served as the president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which includes about 9,000 careers center professionals and campus relations directors. And, in 2013 he was inducted into the NACE Academy of Fellows. Prior to his time with Southwestern Advantage, he was the Director of Career Services at Montana State University. He is currently serving as Professional Vice President of the National Council for Pi Sigma Epsilon, the professional sales and leadership fraternity. Dr. Brigham is a certified life coach, mentoring students and professionals in topics like finance, career, and health and wellness, and developing habits to build a successful life.
Dr. Ralph Brigham
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by CEIA, and for Southwestern Advantage to also be recognized alongside some of the top companies in the world. For over 150 years, Southwestern Advantage has provided services and opportunities for college students to gain an experiential education through our entrepreneurial program. This award is a result of the principles that the company stands for and instills in the students who participate,”
Dr. Brigham
Southwestern Advantage is the oldest entrepreneurial program in the United States. Since 1868, Southwestern Advantage has offered a sales & leadership program that gives university students a way to afford their degrees, gain entrepreneurial skills, and build character. Each summer, a sales force of nearly 1,500 independent student reps market an educational learning system to families across the US & Canada through direct sales.
In addition, Southwestern Advantage empowers university students with the tools, training, and coaching they need to build their own businesses and gain transferable life skills. The product line of early learning, homework help, and SAT/ACT resources help millions of children excel academically and feel excited about school. Student representatives meet with families for short consultative visits to discuss education and show a line of websites, apps, and books that help families reach their academic goals. 
SW Advantage
Southwestern Advantage is a member of Southwestern Family of Companies:
Established in Nashville, Tennessee in 1855, Southwestern Family of Companies is a diversified, growing, international, and employee-owned company built on a foundation of principles and purpose. Comprised of companies with a shared mission of building people and helping others, Southwestern Family of Companies provides a large range of products and services, including educational books and websites, school fundraising efforts, healthy meal solutions, luxury travel packages, financial advising, consulting services, sales and leadership coaching and more.
Southwestern Family of Companies has expanded beyond Southwestern Advantage to include member companies across a range of industries and continues to grow each year.
Southwestern Advantage Building
Press Release
Contact: Trey Campbell, APR
Director of Communications

View Press Release:

southwestern advantage

College Internships & Becoming a Great Job Candidate

College Internships & Becoming a Great Job Candidate

Related Articles

southwestern advantage
College Internships & Becoming a Great Job Candidate

As a college student, you know internships are important. You know there are many to choose from. So, how will you find the right one for you? How will you become the right person for them? How will your internship springboard you into a fulfilling post-grad career?

Let’s start here…

3 Qualities of a Great Internship


You may have expected “experience” to be first on the list, so why would challenge rank higher? Ask yourself this – wouldn’t the more challenging internships offer you better experience by default? Wouldn’t a future employer be more interested in your history of taking on challenges? The fact is, dealing with challenge is synonymous with meaningful experience. The bigger the challenges the better the experience. Don’t be fooled by that “internship in the fashion industry” where the day-to-day responsibility is to fold t-shirts at the mall, or the glamorous experience interning in Manhattan on Wall Street where the day-to-day responsibility is to pour coffee and staple papers.


Networking” has become a tired cliche. It causes too many students to think that the execs at the firm will be inviting them to happy hour and to sit in the boardroom. Anything’s possible, but is it probable? Here’s the reality: Executives invest time in executives, not interns. Ask any potential program to show you its leadership capacity – specifically how they help their interns grow professionally. If you’re not learning and growing, ask yourself – is it really an internship or is it just a job?


Yes, money – that thing you need to get through life. If you consider yourself to be a person that adds value, find an opportunity that pays you based on the value that you add. If your heart is in volunteer work, fantastic! However, bills still exist. Spend your college summers earning and saving as much as possible, not accumulating debt.

What can you do to become a great job candidate?

In addition to all the experienced professionals interviewing, 1.8 million college grads will enter the job market this year. This is why employers will spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing your resume to determine if they want to interview you or not. Their primary interest is your track record.
A smart high school student does what it takes between 9th-12th grade to prove they should be admitted to a great university. A smart university student does what it takes as an undergrad to prove they’re ready for a great career. Picture yourself as an employer in a competitive industry. Who would you rather spend time interviewing – college graduates with the type of work experience that high schoolers are known to have or graduates that have results-oriented experience?

Don’t rush your unemployment

What’s the most opportune time of year that a university student has to gain work experience for a future career search?
Summer, of course. Again, picture yourself as an employer. Would you seek out candidates that graduated “on-time” or “early” or would you seek out candidates with a track record of skills and expertise? How does an early or on-time graduate with little to no experience expect to compete with a 28 year old that has 5 years of experience? Employers do not care if it takes you 6 years to graduate; they want the best candidates. Use your summers wisely, and do the hard things that other undergrads are not willing to do.
Your degree will serve as fantastic theory and foundational knowledge, but when other job candidates have a bachelors or masters degree too, it takes more to stand out. The fact is, each employer will have their own way of training on-the-job technical skills. It’s the communication and interpersonal (soft) skills that are always in low supply and high demand. It’s these sales skills that help teams, organizations, or businesses grow the fastest. The engineer, the doctor, the accountant, or the environmentalist that advances in their career is the one with sales skills. After all, sales skills are simply communication skills.
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

What are communication skills specifically?

A good employer can quickly spot a resume filled with fluff. During an interview process, top employers with the most sought-after jobs will ask candidates to give specific, detailed, results-oriented examples of how they have demonstrated their soft skills (sales skills) in these areas. It’s great to have charisma, but if you can’t catch the ball, you won’t make the team.
At Southwestern Advantage, part of our mission is to help every single one of our participants have not just theoretical but also experience-based answers to every single scenario below. Whether a university student participates in our program or not, having experience-based answers to each of these potential employer’s interview questions will make them a great candidate. Find an internship that will enable you to give impressive answers for these communication skills:
  • Verbal – share a time you effectively expressed new ideas to a potential partner
  • Active Listening – share a time you asked questions to determine a specific situation or need
  • Idea Expression – share a time you explained intangible benefits
  • Facilitating Group Discussion – share a time you led a meaningful group discussion
  • Dealing With Doubt – share a time you helped someone past a hesitation, concern, or fear
  • Negotiating – share a time you came to mutually beneficial terms in a professional setting
  • Perceiving Nonverbal Signals – share a time you interpreted body language in a helpful way
  • Persuading – share a time you convinced someone to make a short term sacrifice for a longer term reward
  • Verbalizing Feelings – share a time you discussed the way you felt in a helpful way
  • Interviewing – share a time you asked questions that got to the core of an issue
  • Extracting Details – share a time you collected data that helped you achieve a goal
  • Problem Solving – share a time you had to independently think on your feet
  • Setting & Achieving Goals – share a time you set a big goal and how you were able to achieve it
  • Defining Needs – share a time you discovered a need and how you improved the situation
  • Developing Rapport – share a time you quickly built professional trust with a stranger
  • Providing Emotional Support – share a time you positively influenced a teammate’s mental state
  • Cooperation – share a time you achieved something significant with people of different backgrounds or personalities
  • Professionalism – share a time you provided a favorable interaction with someone on behalf of your organization
  • Assertiveness – share a time you demonstrated confidence under pressure
  • Teaching – share a time you helped a teammate understand a new concept
  • Delegation – share a time you empowered a teammate with new responsibility
  • Motivating – share a time you motivated yourself and others through a challenge
  • Leadership – share a time you led by example and completed a difficult task because you said you would
  • Coaching – share a time your technical advice helped a teammate improve their performance
  • Counseling – share a time you went beyond the technical and helped a teammate mentally and emotionally
  • Collaboration – share a time you were part of a decision that positively impacted the organization
  • Conflict Management – share a time you diffused a potentially damaging situation
  • Reporting Data – share a time you explained what the numbers were saying
  • Planning and Research – share a time you conceptualized future needs and offered solutions
  • Initiating New Practices – share a time you used sequential knowledge to grow professionally
  • Organizational Leadership – share a time you led a group through a challenging situation
With first-hand experience and a skill set in each of these areas, chances are you’ll find yourself picking from job offers while your peers are hoping to be picked for an interview. Remember, the job candidate you will someday be, you are now becoming.
The above content was made possible by the Career Services division of Thinking Ahead – which specializes in the professional placement of recent graduates and entry-level talent.
Thinking Ahead is the executive search & placement firm within the Southwestern Family of Companies.
SA Family of Companies
southwestern advantage

Refuse To Be Average

Refuse To Be Average

Article seen in Bloomberg, Businessweek, Fortune, and Money

Since 1868, extraordinary college students from around the world have developed people skills, come to understand their strengths and weaknesses, experienced what it means to work without guarantees, and become employable – forever.

Many college students look for standard summer jobs and internships to put on their resumes or make a little spending money. But that’s not what they’ll find at Southwestern Advantage®.

“We’re looking for young people from all majors who have incredibly high goals. We then give them a track to run on, which—if they apply themselves—will develop in them the skills and character needed to achieve those goals. We give them the opportunity to succeed, usually by first falling at on their faces repeatedly,” says President Dan Moore, who joined Southwestern Advantage as a Harvard freshman in 1974 and has never worked anywhere else. “It’s more than a j-o-b. It’s a y-o-b: Your Own Business.”

Students who are up for the challenge spend their summer break in an unfamiliar location. There, they build their own businesses by direct-selling print and online products—developed by professional educators — to families who want to give their children an academic edge.

“College students are experts in education because they have lived it for at least the past 12 years. Our best performers care as much about helping families as the families do about helping their kids,” says Moore. Returning participants learn to recruit and lead teams through the experience in future summers.


For nearly 150 years, Southwestern Advantage has equipped students with personal and workplace skills that translate into future success. “Employers today seek to hire graduates who can contribute to the organization immediately. In the best roles, there isn’t much room for those who feel ‘entitled,’ but there’s a lot of room for people who can hit the ground running. This program embeds that ability in young people,” says Moore.

This experiential education goes beyond what can be taught in a classroom and delivers top attributes employers look for, including leadership, teamwork, problem-solving skills, verbal communication, strong work ethic, initiative, flexibility and adaptability, and interpersonal skills.*


The Southwestern Advantage program is presented to tens of thousands of undergrads each year, but only a small percentage has the self-confidence to take on the challenge. A careful selection process ensures the program is “right for the student, and the student is right for the program,” says Moore.

As with every sole proprietor’s small business—with no floor or ceiling when it comes to potential pro t—discipline and attitude are proficiencies that must be quickly developed and applied. The most successful students stay the course, work hard, prepare thoroughly, bring an attitude of service to others, and remain highly coachable.


“A summer opportunity can lead to a full and diversely interesting career with Southwestern Advantage, as it did for me,” says Moore. Other career paths within the Southwestern Family of Companies include investment advising, residential real estate, sales improvement consulting, professional fundraising, and offering nutritious, all-natural herbs, spices, and infused oils to families. The common thread? A rewarding, one-to-one effort focused on helping people achieve their goals.

And the first step is in the summer.

Related Articles

Refuse To Be Average
southwestern advantage