Jackson Chao – The Light Bulb that Changed my Life

Jackson Chao – Simon Fraser University

Throughout high school and my first few years in University, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was drifting around like a lost balloon in the wind, went wherever was safe and settled for whatever was convenient. I joined clubs but rarely showed up, I got good marks in school but it wasn’t the best. I wasn’t achieving much in life, but the worst part was that I recognized this and didn’t try to make a difference. One day, my father brought something to my attention which became my first wakeup call: I was scared of success. I didn’t want to take on the responsibility and the work that is required with success. It was strange, but I realized it was true. This idea was incepted into my mind and I became overwhelmed with regrets.

One day, a friend of mine told me he applied for a summer internship. As he described the internship using his poor enthusiasm and lack of knowledge, all I took away were: sales, encyclopedias, and door-to-door. I thought to myself: I dislike sales. I think I am more of a finance person (or so I thought). Who the heck uses encyclopedias anymore? Door-to-door? Are you kidding me? So I said to my friend ‘LOL. Good luck with that. Tell me how it goes.’ A week went by and while we were hanging out, he followed up with me about this Southwestern Advantage Internship. This time, I took a few more things out of the discussion: experience and challenges. Like the idea that was implanted into my mind by my dad half a year ago, these two words slowly crept their way to the back of my mind. The two pieces of information merged and became a humongous light bulb. I then made the decision to sign up for the Southwestern Advantage Internship. Little did I know, this decision was going to change my life.

The unique thing about the Southwestern experience is that it is different for everyone. Each person will face their own challenges and each person will come up with their own solutions. However, regardless of how many challenges one faced, every single book boy or book girl will grow and learn so much by the end of each summer. Going into my first summer, I had no idea what I was in for. When I arrived at sales school in Nashville, I was completely blown away. Besides looking like a dork with my polos and shorts, one thing really bugged me. Why is everyone so gosh darn happy all the time? It was to my knowledge that university and college students be miserable about life. This should be especially true when it comes to waking up in the morning. Yet, everywhere around me people were popping out of bed, dancing, cheering and smiling like crazy people. A little after, I learned about the importance of positive attitude and how it is entirely controllable. The week of sales school flew by so fast, the next thing I realized, I was sitting in the auditorium listening to my last key note speaker. Up until then, I thought I had already seen the best speakers, boy was I wrong. It was then, I realized two things: Whatever this person has that is giving him the ability to captivate the audience, I want it. Second, the only way for me to gain this ability is through this Southwestern Advantage internship.

In my two summers running my personal business with Southwestern Advantage, I have learned more than I have had in my two years of University prior to the internship. I realized the importance in maintaining a positive attitude and how to set high goals but tackling it piece by piece. As well, I discovered how to deal with rejections and discovered the beauty of the sales cycle. Each summer I come away feeling wiser and smarter. It’s true when the managers say the summer is like a condensed roller coaster version of your life along with all its problems. You will feel your highest highs and most definitely your lowest lows. There will be tears of happiness as well as tears of loneliness. But the greatest feeling is knowing that your presence and action changed a family’s life.

One day, while I was in between doors and psyching myself up with flashbacks of sales school, I had a realization: Regardless of what I do in life, I want to make a difference and change lives. As a result, I became a manager and returned for a second summer. Coming back as a manager I was given more responsibility but at the same time, more rewards. It feels amazing watching someone grow and realize their goals. In the end, being thanked for helping them through their struggles is the most awesome feeling.

This feeling of significance is definitely a great perk of the Southwestern Advantage internship, but I believe the greatest gem is the people in the business. Upon admission into the internship, I was exposed to students who are thrilled about life and are motivated to succeed. Instead of making a mockery out of my goals and dreams, they helped me believe I can achieve anything. It was a breath of fresh air. Hanging around with book boys and book girls makes me want to become a better person. If I had made no money in my past two summers, I am glad I made these lifelong friendships. I forgot where I heard this from, but the difference between who you are now and who you are in 50 years, are the people you meet and the books you read. I never thought I would be the kind of person who reads self-help and motivation books, but after my two summers, I can’t imagine going through life with-out it.

We are all given one chance to live this one life as this one person. Regardless of religious belief, everyone gets only one chance to make what they want with the life they get. There are no second chances. It’s a scary truth and it may be difficult to accept. Through countless hours talking to families and myself (yes, talking to myself) during my Southwestern Advantage experience, I have realized this truth. From someone scared of success and living life with regrets, I now want to become an inspiration for others and help others achieve their goals. Whether or not you decide to sell books, do something this summer not just for the money but for reasons that transcends it. Do something that will help you become a better person and grow, because in the end, you will not regret it.

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