Drew Stapleton – Making the right decision

Drew Stapleton – Michigan State University

Last year (early 2011), when I was a sophomore undergrad at Michigan State University, I was sitting at the student union with my girlfriend, Mara, and one of our friends, Wyatt. Wyatt was telling us how he had to tell this guy he was planning on doing a sales internship this summer, but that he could no longer do it because he had found a more suitable internship with a state senator. While we were talking, the guy that Wyatt had to break the news to, Kyle Peters, approached our table and introduced himself. After him and Wyatt left and had their discussion, Kyle came back to the table where Mara and I were sitting and asked us what we were doing this summer. Mara went on a brief, but fairly impressive monologue about this internship she had already secured with a lobbying firm in Michigan. When it was my turn, all I was thinking was, “Her excuse to not talk to this guy Kyle is so much better than mine.” So, sure enough, I responded with my much less-impressive plan for the summer, which was to wait tables at a restaurant in my home town. Even though I was initially resistant to talking to Kyle, what he said about Southwestern Advantage did peak my interest, and given my very weak response to what I had lined up for the summer, I felt obligated to attend one of his informational meetings.

At the meeting, Kyle spoke about the long hours, hard work, and perseverance it takes to do well with Southwestern. He told me that if I worked 80 hours a week and saw 30 people a day then I would definitely make $8,000. This was very intriguing to me, because I needed some money, but being a political science major, I felt the need to question this, along with everything else Kyle said. I talked to my parents after my second or third meeting with Kyle, and they strongly encouraged me to look into other paid internships, reminding me that there was no guarantee I would make any money. Being the procrastinator I am, I put off the decision of whether or not I would sell books for weeks, before finally telling Kyle that I was in. I figured there was no way to know for sure whether or not this internship would be good for me unless I actually did it. It’s a good thing I finally did decide to sell books, because it was without a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I worked exactly the number of hours, and saw exactly the number of people per day that Kyle told me to, and lo and behold, I made exactly the amount of money that Kyle said I would if I did those things. But that is not the reason you should sell books. Money comes and goes, but the endless amount of skills you learn on the book field last forever. Southwestern will teach you skills that are perfectly relevant to any career path you choose. My communication skills are infinitely better, especially with adults (who are the demographic you will be interviewing with when you apply for jobs), but also with little kids (which is more difficult than I thought, and may help in the long run). My ability to sell went from non-existent to at least above average, which is a crucial skill in any profession, whether you’re selling your case to a jury, you art to a museum, your medical practice to patients, your software design to a superior, or yourself to any interviewer. Southwestern teaches you the ability to stay positive and laugh at yourself, which is a skill that so many people sorely lack. When you are riding an old bike around in the driving rain at 9 pm (I rode a bike because I did not have a car), and knocking on doors asking people to let you in their home so you can show them some really cool books, the only thing you can do is laugh (even if it’s to keep yourself from crying). Selling books makes it easier to overcome challenges, and I am a more confident, more persistent, harder worker for doing it.

There is no better internship in the country that will better prepare you for the professional world and life as a whole than Southwestern. If you struggle with confidence, it will help you. If you are struggling to figure out how to separate yourself from your classmates while searching for a job, selling books is a great way to do it. If you want to improve your communication skills, Southwestern will help you. If you think you are someone that is already a hard, diligent, motivated worker, why not prove it to yourself? There are certainly risks involved with selling books; anything can happen. And you will probably lead a happy, fulfilling life if you do not sell books; I do not mean to overstate its importance, and I would certainly never say that someone who has done the Southwestern program is any better than anyone who hasn’t. But if you never take any risks, you will never gain any rewards. If you only take small risks, you will only gain small rewards. But if you take great risks, your rewards will be great as well. So, if you are considering selling books, I urge you to stop considering, and just do it. I promise you won’t regret it.


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