When I first heard about selling books with Southwestern Advantage it was from my girlfriend in college (now wife), Naomi. She was super excited and told me all of the great things about it. Being an incredibly supportive boyfriend I told her that it sounded like a scam and that she was going to be like a girl scout selling cookies for the summer. Naomi proved me wrong about it being a scam, and made $15,000 her first summer. When she got back to school she told how excited she was for a second summer and that I should totally apply for a Southwestern Internship myself for this summer. I told her there was no way I would EVER sell anything door to door. 5 summers later it has been one of the best things I ever did.
What helped me decide to give it a shot was learning more about the Southwestern Advantage product line and more about the system of selling that Southwestern taught. I quickly realized that this was not door to door in the traditional sense, and that the products themselves rocked. I was a math education student at Michigan State University at the time, and I thought there was a real need for what Southwestern as a company offered. I am glad I took the time to see the differences.
I am not going to tell you that I loved every minute of my Southwestern Advantage Internship experience my first summer, because I didn’t. There were days that I loved and days that were an absolute grind. I loved the people I was with and I enjoyed helping families, but the rejection for me was killer. I had a 3.9 in college, had been captain of sports teams in high school, and had been home coming king my senior year. I was not used to rejection. If you do a summer in the Southwestern Internship you realize quickly that the world does not care what you did in high school. They don’t even care about what you are currently doing in college. They have their own lives, and they care about what you can do to help them and their family. If you can, they will love you. If they don’t think you can, they will not give you the time of day. This is incredibly challenging.
My first summer I think the thing I hated the most was being confronted with my own flaws. I realized that I was not nearly as patient as I thought I was. I did not care about people to the level I previously thought I did. I hated these revelations about myself. I wanted to blame the moms I was approaching; it must have been them that brought out these weaknesses. I wanted to blame Southwestern as a company. They must somehow be to blame. I wanted to blame my managers. I wanted to blame my roommates. I wanted to blame anyone instead of accepting that maybe I had simply never been challenged in my life to a level that exposed these weaknesses before.
It took me a while to decide whether I was going to come back for a second summer. They pain was to fresh for a while. I felt like I gained so much my first summer. I had gained so much true confidence that I could do anything I set my mind to. I felt way more comfortable with people I had never met. I felt like I had a general increase in maturity that only challenges can accomplish. I had made $13,000 that was going to help pay for grad school. But, I was not sure I wanted to face myself again.
Ultimately I decided that I could run from the parts of myself I didn’t like and hope that they never came up again in future jobs, as a husband, as a father, or as a friend. Either that or I could attack these weaknesses in a second summer and try to conquer them. I sure am glad I chose the second path. It really has been a wild ride, but I feel that I am a far better husband, father, and manager as a result of my Southwestern Advantage experience. It is not for everybody, but if a person is committed to finishing what they start, it can be an incredible experience.