My name is Josiah Fogle. That probably means nothing to you at this point, but I have told a few people about my story and if you wanna listen then read on. Some people at my small Christian college called Calvin have listened and decided to follow suit by joining me in my second summer; so maybe you might find what I say of some value too.
I would say there were 4 things that I really loved about my experience; things I would call my Southwestern Advantage. They are persistence, schedule, intentionality, and spiritual growth.
I’ll get right into the first advantage that I took away: I learned persistence. I grew up playing sports, being involved in many different group activities, and I felt like I was already a very committed person. Little did I know how much of a commitment Southwestern really is. While I was at sales school, I called up my parents and told them that I had really underestimated the commitment that was being asked of me. This was helpful because there were many times during the summer when I was faced with rejection, and many times where I questioned my choice to stay for the entire summer. I learned that it is a choice to be mentally, physically, and emotionally ON, and God rewards those who work hard.
The second advantage I gained: schedule. This was also not a drastically new concept to me, being an organized person in general. Southwestern does not have someone follow you to make sure you are doing what you say you will do, but in regards to schedule, that’s where your integrity is tested. During my summer I learned how important it is to choose to be committed to a schedule, while at the same time not being ruled by it. The difference between starting work at 7:59, and not 8:00, is not just 1 minute. It is a mindset of integrity that says, “I said I would start before 8:00, and I will guard my schedule because I said I would.” I learned what can be achieved by setting a schedule and committing to it.
The third thing that I took away from the summer: I learned to listen, and I mean being present and intentionally listening to people. I learned to genuinely care about what parents and students said and ask better questions because I cared. There are so many times when we do not really listen to one another with interest, and through the Southwestern internship I learned to listen to families, hearing their genuine concerns for education and for their kids. That was a blast. It’s funny how when you start focusing on others, and less on yourself, you begin to have more fun. I received emails from customers saying “Thank you so much for taking the time to knock on our door and explain the books to us,” and I feel like that is a true sign of not just my achievement as a good salesperson, but more a testimony of being focused on filling the needs of others instead my own.
The last and most impactful way I grew: my personal relationship with God. I am a follower of Christ, saved by God’s crazy unconditional love for me. The summer challenged me in so many ways but one thing that helped me stay focused was setting up a consistent time to read my Bible and other spiritually encouraging material. I built the habit of reading as well as the habit of talking to God throughout the day. During a summer with Southwestern, you can choose to have a lot of time alone in silence between houses or you can choose to talk to God in that time. I chose the latter. I felt it was awesome; and God did amazing things last summer. I met a dad who shared the Gospel with me, and after I told him I was a follower of Christ, he became one of my biggest advocates in the community. God used little instances like that to remind me that it’s about others, not about me.
This is an opportunity that will allow you to grow in ways and lengths that you didn’t even think possible; ways and lengths that you will not find in any other opportunity. If that’s the type of experience you’re looking for as a college student, you’re in the right place.