Jose Aguilar – UCLA
I first heard about the Southwestern Advantage internship through a survey I jokingly filled out. This was mid-May, three weeks before the spring semester was over. At that time, I had finished an internship as an International Trade Assistant where I was able to publish some valuable reports. Then, I was working as a clerk on my campus just before the spring was over.
When I was off work, I got a phone call from Omar Iribe inviting me to an information session to hear about Southwestern in which, I signed up for the next day. I didn’t even show up the next day. Then, I got a phone call again from the same person. I ended up showing up the day after I signed up.
I decided to go through the three day selection process and the next thing I know is that I got selected to do the program but at the same time, I had registered for summer school weeks before all this. I had to make a decision between summer school and this program. I asked my parents and my motivation dropped as they wanted me to do summer school although they were not going to force me.
I decided to do the Southwestern internship and they were supportive. I am grateful I did it because I did learn a ton that first summer that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The word easy doesn’t even come to mind when I hear about Southwestern. It was the hardest thing I had ever done.
Sales school was tough for me. I felt that everyone knew their stuff and I was left out which translated into my first weeks of the summer. My first three weeks of the summer in Kent, Washington I was barely making any sales and hardly making any money as I had a lot of “zero” days. My student managers often times thought about whether I was going to survive this summer because they didn’t see this as a possibility at the pace that I was going. It was not that I wasn’t working; it just wasn’t clicking for me. At that point, I just wanted to quit because things were not going my way. Nevertheless, I am glad that I didn’t quit that summer.
After week three, I started hitting best week after best week, having my best 2 weeks my last 2 weeks out of the summer (I wanna win). Reality was that I was doing better than some of my student managers who were skeptical about whether I was going to finish the summer. At the end of that summer, I ended up being a top first year out of the whole company. I was very happy it was over, got my big check in Nashville, TN during checkout, and never thought of doing the program again.
After meeting with Nate Vogel and Omar Iribe later in the spring, the year after I had done the program, I don’t know what happened in that meeting but it became a turning point and the next thing that I remember was that was coming back for a second summer. I will also give a lot of credit to Dan Moore, the president of the company, whose words of wisdom and advice helped me want to come back. It wasn’t that they were trying to convince me; it was more that I had to see the benefits for myself. So, I am back for a second summer in Dix Hills, New York. That summer, I hit growth, was a top experience dealer, and more than double my check.
This past summer, my 3rd summer with the program, I looked at my achievements and I reflect on how much I have grown. I went from not making a dime my first weeks of my first summer to hitting best weeks ever my 3rd summer. I hit Presidents Club a few times ($3,000 profit in a week).
A portion of the money I have made with Southwestern has gone to my tuition expenses. However, most of it, I saved and now have tens of thousands invested in shares of stock. I’ve always been a car lover since High School, changing cars almost every year (from Acura’s to Honda’s). This time, I decided to treat myself a bit nicer than before and I bought a top of the line fully loaded Lexus IS 350, which I paid all cash for without having to sacrifice my investments.
The money has come in handy but it has not been the reason why I have stayed around Southwestern. I am glad I stayed around because the people that I work with are awesome and all the amazing training the company provides can’t get better. Through the program, I have explored different parts of the country and of the world. I even have personal coaching which is rare to get in any other job. I believe there is hardly any jobs where you get to impact more human lives (other than yourself) and that provide a great educational service than Southwestern. Every summer, I learned so much about myself and about life than ever before. Most of my skills have improved: communication skills, time management, attitude, leadership, etc.
I view the Southwestern Advantage Program as a mini MBA – a program that will prepare you for the real world as an undergraduate student. In college and beyond everything in life is a test. I promise that after completing a summer with Southwestern, your life will change and you will start thinking and acting differently towards opportunities and challenges in your life.
When things get tough during the summer, just remember to hold on and have faith that things will get better.
“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France