Ashley Hanson – Be the change you wish to see

Ashley Hanson – UC Berkeley

Ashley Hanson worked in the Southwestern Internship.

I am a sophomore at U.C. Berkeley majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Business and Globalization. My first summer working in the Southwestern Advantage Internship went by in a blink of an eye; I challenged myself physically, mentally and emotionally just as I set out to do. Currently, I plan to pursue a dual degree program after I finish my undergraduate studies at Berkeley, and obtain a JD and MBA at some school on the East Coast. My original plan for summer 2010 was to work at my uncle’s law firm in Arizona but when I heard about the Southwestern summer program I was intrigued and interested in learning more about the company’s past and present. I found the limitless possibilities of managing my own business compelling and seized the opportunity.

After just finishing my first year in college and deleting all my high school extracurricular activities off my resume I knew I had to intern somewhere during the summer months to rebuild the laundry list of ‘experience’ for grad schools and future employment.  However, I was skeptical about turning down my uncle’s proposal and making the wrong decision yet I was open to the idea of challenging myself and building my resume. To my surprise, the more I attended Southwestern meetings and exposed myself to different levels of management locally, regionally, and internationally throughout my spring semester at school, I fell in love with the positive atmosphere and success principles imbedded in the company’s mission statement and alumni.

During the summer, I felt like W. E. B. Du Bois conducting some sociological study door to door and was constantly surprised by the reactions of others and the different behavioral buying styles. The book field constantly surprised my predetermined thoughts about people. Personally, this summer taught me that I can, I will, and I am going to accomplish anything I put my mind to as long as I control the controllable variables. I became the master of my emotions and learned to ride the vicissitudes of life. Everything I went through this summer taught me something new about the world around me as well as myself.  In fact, after this summer when I returned back to school, I finished the Nike Women’s half marathon in San Francisco in less than 2.5 hours- the first time I ran more than 5 miles in my life, I co-founded a program with the YWCA in Oakland, CA working with 4th and 5th grade girls, I started working part-time, and I just got accepted to study abroad in Paris next fall.  I have realized life is full of infinite possibilities and opportunities if one is willing to work hard, which has changed my outlook on life forever.

During the summer, there were many times I thought about giving up and doubted myself. However, I channeled all my inner strength to persevere and overcome problems, which is a skill that benefits my day to day life. The life experiences I gained are remarkable and incomparable to the average summer internship and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself. After this summer, I feel empowered, strong and unstoppable.  There are so many possibilities in this world and the Southwestern Internship gave me a glimpse at how one person can make an impact on so many lives. Ghandi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world” and I believe that the catalyst to making a difference in this world is courage because it takes courage to take action, and action to cure fear.

One of the best parts about my job this summer was showing families how to enrich their children’s lives with education and I loved seeing parents give every ounce of support towards their children’s academic success regardless of their financial ability. Middle class, upper class, single parents, unemployed parents, and even flood victims shared the common goal of enriching their children’s lives with education, which enlightened my summer experience. I learned a very valuable lesson that you cannot learn in school about the resilience of family bonds, which is beyond science and technology, and gave me a greater appreciation for my own family.

There were many instances where I doubted the average Americans’ mannerisms towards strangers however; as I continued to work hard, I found families that reminded me of my own family. I learned to maintain my own emotions by controlling my inner thoughts and outward mannerisms towards strangers. Nevertheless, the mission statement of Southwestern Advantage was what really kept me going, because when I doubted my own abilities, the families I helped reminded me the art to door-to-door sales is not in the act of selling but providing a service to families and promoting education.

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