Jill Poston – Clemson University
I first heard about selling books with the Southwestern Advantage summer internship when I was growing up, because my dad actually sold books in 1979-1982. I heard stories of him selling books in Nebraska, Iowa, and Texas, and thought, “that sounds interesting/slightly weird.” I met Spencer Hays, the Executive Chairman of the Board for Southwestern, at one of my dad’s national meetings for his company, and he asked me if I was going to sell books in college, and I said “I didn’t even know girls sold books!” He said, “Let me tell you a secret: girls kick the boys’ butts selling books.” I didn’t think much else about it until I received a phone call from my future student manager, Chris Sica, who invited me over to hear about the summer. Even though I already knew a lot about the company, I was still worried about coming out for the summer because I didn’t know if I could do well and I was worried about missing out on my friends back home and all the fun events that we had planned for the summer. But Chris told me if I worked the hours, saw all the families that he taught me to see in a day, and had a winning attitude while doing it, then I would crush the summer and it would be worth the time away from home because of the skills I would develop along the way. 4 years later, I am still doing this same program because I get so much out of it every year!
My first summer I sold in Mustang and Yukon, Oklahoma – I have never seen land so flat in my life! I stayed with a Southwestern alumni from the 1960s, Dale and Vanna Hume. They were absolutely perfect and so kind and understanding to me and my 2 roommates. I loved our breakfast spot, “Omelettes n’ Moore,” since we were in Moore, Oklahoma. I ordered the same thing every day, so I became a “regular”! My first day on the bookfield I was so nervous. I ended up having a pretty good day – I worked the hours and found families to talk to, but I definitely wasn’t very good yet. I talked to my student manager at night and he coached me on how to find more families at home to talk to.
My next day was a LOT tougher. I remember how lonely I felt – it was definitely my toughest day I’ve ever experienced. I talked to Chris the next night and he told me to follow Jane Harper, one of the other student managers in the organization. I followed her for the day, and all of the sudden this job made so much more sense! The rest of the week was really tough because I was having trouble getting in doors and I was spending a lot of time outside, but I pushed through, and the next week I sat down with twice as many people as the first week, and the second week I sat down with three times as many people as the first week! So, just as Chris Sica said, “If you work hard, you get better.” I worked my little butt off all summer and was rewarded with being the top first year from Clemson University and finished number 17 in the company.
I grew so much that summer. I appreciate my parents a lot more now, understand how to coach myself when no one else is with me, how to entertain myself, how to always find a way instead of an excuse, and have really honed my skills and abilities with people and communication. Over the past 3 summers, I have learned a lot about leadership, since now I recruit and train other students to do well in the summer and improve their lives. If I could give any piece of advice, don’t wait. If you’re thinking about selling this summer, just do it. It’s worth it. I just graduated from Clemson in May 2010, and it sure is nice to walk around a career fair wondering “which company would be lucky enough to work with me? Which company do I actually like?” instead of “I hope someone hires me.” because I know that what I possess in terms of work ethic, goal-oriented mindset, and a winning attitude are really rare to find in 22 year olds.
I’ve been flown around the country to go to interviews and am being recruited by several companies who have spots waiting for me for whenever I decide to end my career as a team builder and seller here at Southwestern Advantage. It’s a fun way to live. I don’t believe that college is the best four years of your life. It only gets better after you graduate, if you prepare yourself while in college. It’ll be the best four years of your life if you don’t prepare yourself well for the next step. Build yourself for your career while you’re in college. College will provide you with technical training in your field during the school year – use the summer to set yourself apart by building yourself during your summer.