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.