Tamara and Mike Porter – The Porter’s daughter, Channing, worked in the Southwestern Advantage sales and leadership program as a freshman at the University of Maryland
As parents of a college freshman daughter, we were obviously concerned when Channing came home talking about selling books door-to-door over the summer in the Southwestern Advantage sales program. We researched the company and learned of the reputable alumni (former governors, successful business owners and executives), spoke with her Student Manager, (who drove 3 hours to meet us in person to answer all of our questions and concerns), and most importantly talked with Channing as to why she wanted to take on such a challenging and hard working summer job; then we gave her our full support. That support truly does help the students on those difficult days.
We are so grateful for the maturity and growth she has experienced working for four summers, and now recruiting for Southwestern. Channing has learned so much about self- discipline and motivation, relationships and leadership through herSouthwestern Advantage experience than she ever would have in a traditional summer internship. She knows how to run her own business. The sales, leadership, and management training is outstanding.
Southwestern is an amazing company and experience for students that want to push themselves, and grow and develop while being surrounded by managers that truly lead and teach students to be successful in business and in life. Now our second daughter is getting ready to be a “book kid” and she can’t wait for summer.
As a parent, we want to protect our children at all costs. When my son Brandon Abernathy told me about a summer internship with Southwestern Advantage selling books, I was very skeptical.
Bud Holmes – Bud Holmes is a former District Attorney and also a former sports agent. His clients included the late great Walter Payton. Bud’s daughter Mary Lee finished her first summer with Southwestern in 2010 and is going on a second summer in 2011.
My daughter, Mary Lee Holmes asked me to write my thoughts on the influences the southwestern internship experience has had on her life.
Mary Lee at this point in her life is planning on a legal career. As a second generation attorney and former District Attorney I know you cannot adequately represent a litigant if you are afraid of rejection.
This experience she has received will toughen her up to the cold realities of dealing with the public; how you learn not to accept rejection but to keep working to overcome it. The successes she experienced has broadly expanded her understanding of human nature, how not to take human feelings personally, and how to diplomatically persuade them to your point of view. This experience to a litigator or politician is invaluable. There’s is no class room, horn book, or legal treaties that can teach this. If I was looking to hire a young a attorney for my practice, their experience and resume from southwestern would be far more compelling to me than their grade point average, moot court, or law journal position, because we practice people more so than law. And people skills are far more important. It is my observation that the Southwestern internship does an outstanding job in honing the skills of being a true people person.
From the time we are born, we all seek security. Being confident in our own ability to make it on our own is the biggest security builder. Nothing builds confidence like experiencing success.
Southwestern has given her the opportunity to do it on her own, rather than second guessing if daddy pulled some strings and wondering if she could not take full credit. She now has that confidence that only this type experience can produce.
Do I hate to see her fly from the nest? As much as I LOVE her you know the answer!
However for her sake I would not have it any other way. If you love them enough you have to encourage them to fly with their own wings. (It it heartbreaking to see 25-30 year olds who haven’t been able to develop because their parents won’t turn them loose.)
Martin Luther King always said, “Give me an opportunity not a handout.” And I appreciate the opportunity Southwestern gave Mary Lee to find out who she is, to develop her security, her confidence, and her people skills.
Thank you Southwestern for providing Mary Lee with this wonderful stepping stone for her journey through life.
Gary M. Price – Gary has had two children participate in the Southwestern summer internship
I am writing this letter to any students and parents considering a first Southwestern Advantage summer internship. I am the father of two children who participated in the selling program at Southwestern, my son for only one summer, and my daughter for three summers.
Whether you have ever thought about it or not, life is about trying to get the most out of life that you can. We all work at something to gain income to support our lifestyles, and we all want to improve on these lifestyles. The lifestyle that we achieve is directly proportional to our skills and our efforts. One of the most important, I happen to think that it is the most important skill of all, is that of promotion, or selling.
We all sell something. Even if you think you are not selling anything, you are. We sell ourselves every day, whether we are conscience of it or not. Of course, if you are not conscience of it, you are at a distinct disadvantage, as you will probably not be very good at it.
If you work in any sort of business of your own, or if you are an employee, you are selling yourself to either your customers and employees or to your employer and co-workers every day. When you make your boss aware of all your hard work and achieved deadlines, you are engaged in selling yourself. Even when you are angling for a date with someone to whom you are attracted, you get busy selling yourself. You put on your most flattering clothes, keep yourself clean, and make sure your hair is just right. This is a form of self-promotion, or selling!
This is where Southwestern comes in and really shines. Of course there is much more to Southwestern than selling, but as stated earlier, I regard it as the most important skill you can develop to achieve the things you want out of life, andSouthwestern’s sales training program was developed over the one hundred plus years they have been in business. It must be a good one or they couldn’t have lasted so long. If you look at the Dow 30 companies from say forty or fifty years ago, most are no longer there. It’s not easy to keep a business going over a long period of time. To do so requires innovation, and more importantly, a core business that can stand the test of time. Obviously, Southwestern is doing something right.
My kids learned so much besides selling. They learned persistence, dependability, how to manage their own business, how to handle rejection and persevere, how to be a self-motivator, how to be independent, how to be responsible, and how to make money. The actual money they made selling books had the least value of all that they acquired from their time spent selling the Southwestern Advantage. If they would have had to pay Southwestern, it would have been the best money they would have spent in their lives, and I’m even putting it ahead of a college education. There aren’t too many valuable life-skills taught in colleges.
The skills they developed during those summers, will last them all their lives. They are so far ahead of kids their ages, it is incredible! In fact, they are way ahead of most people of any age. They have skills and experiences most people never develop or have in an entire lifetime. It is simple to compare them with the people they now work with (post Southwestern). Their skill level puts them head and shoulders above their competition.
Oh yeah, I didn’t mean to gloss over the income while they sold books as it was terrific. I regard it as a super bonus to such a wonderful “life success” program. Since my daughter worked for three summers, she left college with a nice fat sum in her bank account. It has been five years now since she completed her selling adventure, and that money she socked away has been added to and grown to a sum many forty or fifty year olds would be envious of. Oh, did I forget that all that hard work taught her the value of money?
In summation, I would like any perspective parent who is hesitant to enroll their children in the Southwestern Advantage internship program, to use common sense when making your decision. In any endeavor a person chooses to embark on, whether it be attending college or working with Southwestern Advantage, there will always be people who have great experiences and those that do not. Ever wonder why there are kids who speak negatively of Southwestern? How about failure and denial? Those who drop out, quit before they could learn the many benefits, and so cheated themselves out of such a tremendous opportunity. It is similar to the kid that parties too much and drops out of college. It is easy to blame someone or something else for failure. In regards to Southwestern I would ask that you research the many incredibly successful graduates who credit Southwestern for their success in all their endeavors. The proof is in the results, and I am sure if you do a little research, you can find very long lists of Southwestern success stories. Don’t let a few nay-sayers color your thinking. Get the truth. There are thousands and thousands who have made success out of themselves, and attribute those successes to their time with Southwestern.
One other thing I almost forgot. Southwestern Advantage graduates have a bond for each other, and when they run across one another out in the business world, they know the skill level the other has, and if they are in a position of hiring, they will take the Southwestern grad before others. And networking continues out in the business world as well. They continue their friendships made while selling, and it is amazing how valuable these turn out to be. After all, most of this elite fraternity achieves success early, and goes onward and upward fast. It’s nice to have friends in high places!
I could write you all about the things we have seen happening in our daughter, Charlotte, since she started working for Southwestern. I could tell you that we, as parents, were not too keen on what she got herself into at the time.
This is about 9 years ago and Charlotte was “way too young” in our eyes to go and knock on doors with “who knows who” answering it. Being so far away from home getting into who knows what kind of trouble; not because of what she would do, but because of what others might do to her. Besides “were there no better jobs for her than that?”
She was raised in the country and how much real-world experience and street smarts does one gain there?
That was the first thing I could tell you about as well as the conversations we had with her and just between my husband and I.
I could also tell you about how she has grown because of that experience and the lessons she has learned over the years. How well she has done financially over the last 9 years and how she has been able to pay her way through university without any debts (we are very proud of that. She did this all herself. We were not in the position to pay for any of these things since we were raising 5 children).
However there are enough people who already have talked about that on this blog.
What I would like to talk about is the company and the people who make up this company.
In the beginning, we were not too impressed when our daughter told us what she was going work with Southwestern. Not only because we did not like our child knocking on doors, but we also “knew” that these kinds of companies are only there for their bottom line. Why would they care about our children, as long as they sold the books, the company would be happy.
Were we ever wrong! We got a taste of this fact two years ago when we were invited by Charlotte to come to Nashville for an awards ceremony. She had done exceptionally well that year and she told us that if we ever wanted to come and experience Southwestern, this should be the year.
To go into detail about the whole 5 days we were there will take too long, so I will just write about the most important things that I will never forget.
This was the Great Recruiters Seminar, an important meeting where many of the students returning for another summer come together to start their new year and learn how to introduce Southwestern to their friends on campus. They have seminars on how to do well in school, with Southwestern and also great life principles on how to choose your spouse and your career.
We were shown the headquarters of Southwestern and we met a lot of important people there, like the president Dan Moore, who invited us into his home to have dinner. We met his wonderful wife Maria and some of their family. I have never experienced another company where the president would invite you into his home and cook for you. We had a wonderful time. These are amazing people who, we found when we shared over dinner and after, really care about the students and who want them to succeed. Not only in this job, but in their life.
We met Henry Bedford, the CEO, who came to introduce himself when we were given the tour through the company. He could have walked on and carried on with what he was doing, but by saying hello to us he made us feel really welcome. He told us about some of the issues he was working on to help teach the students to better manage their businesses to make sure they would end up saving more money at the end of the summer.
We also met Ralph Brigham, Southwestern’s Director of Campus Relations, when we were on our tour. He also took time out of his work to talk to us and made us feel very welcome. After the award ceremonies, which were a wonderful encouragement for anyone to watch, when the party was going on, we left and went back to the hotel. Not feeling ready to retire for the night, we opted to go for a drink at the hotel bar. We ran into Ralph and his wife, Lori, who were there also with Dan and Maria Moore. They invited us to have a drink with them and we had a wonderful evening getting to know these people even more.
They talked to us as if we were the most important people out there. They went out of their way to show us the business and explained to us what they were doing. We met many young people in that building and they knew them all by name. They did not have to spend time with us, we had not expected that at all, but they made sure we felt very much part of the family.
We found that most of the people in the company had started in the book field. We met Trey Campbell, Southwestern’s Director of Public Relations, who, when he was hired, had not worked in the field. He decided that in order to understand what the Southwestern business was all about he needed to go there as well. So one summer he did just that.
We found that these people had a real heart for the students and they went out of their way to help those young people to have the best experience. These leaders really wanted them to succeed and have the best summer they could have. They spent many hours making themselves available to who ever wanted to talk to them; from early breakfast meetings till late at night.
I highly regard them and what this company stands for. They have a real heart for our youth and for the promise that is in these young people. They see that it is important to encourage them to strive for the best they can do, for they are our future. These leaders are not in the business of the bottom line (although that is important), they are in the business of training leaders and they are willing to put in long hours.
The young people could not be outdone either. They were at the meetings and soaked up every bit of information that was handed to them. These were students who came from all corners of the world and they had spent lots of money to get there. All of them had been working at least one summer and I saw that they really understood that to work with this company they would gain a lot of experience in a broad field; something you cannot find at fast food restaurants or big box stores. They were so eager and so motivated, it was inspiring.
Those who were there were the kind of people (the young ones and the leaders) who wanted something out of life and they were finding out that it would take work and dedication to get somewhere.
I have never seen a group of motivated young people and leadership as I have seen in this company and I have seen the difference it made to Charlotte, my oldest daughter, who, in her second summer, recruited her brother, Dan. He stayed for 3 summers and what he learned over those 3 years he is using now in his daily work. Because of what he learned in Southwestern he has a great job and he uses lots of what he learned there, daily.
In 2010, my youngest daughter, Eleanore, ventured out for her first Southwestern summer. Although she did not have as good as a summer she had hoped, she has made positive changes in her life and returning for a second summer. One of the first phone calls I had from her when she was in the book field last year, was how inspiring the people were she was working with. These were people who had a goal in life. They were not just going to go to a job; they are going to go somewhere.
I now know that this company cares. I have never seen that anywhere before, I did not know that this existed. And as I was so concerned the first year when my first child went selling door to door and I wished she had taken any other of job available. Ten years later, I have had 3 children participate in the Southwestern summer program, and both my daughter-in-law and son-in-law are Southwestern alumni. I now find myself telling others about this company and passing on some of the information to them so that they can find out for themselves whether this may be a job they may want to do.
Denise Hooser – Denise’s daughter Brooke worked in the Southwestern Advantage internship program for a first summer during her freshman year
During my daughter’s freshmen year in college at the University of Tennessee she called me up one day and told me that she was considering working with Southwestern for the summer. She told me all about the internship and seemed so excited about working and making her own money. I listened patiently, but all I could think about was not having her home for the summer! I couldn’t imagine going on a family vacation without her. I was heart-broken.
After all of my attempts at changing her mind, I realized that Brooke was determined to stick her ground. I have always been supportive of everything she wanted to do and I knew that this internship was very important to her. Trying to show my support, I began asking questions about the internship. She was so eager to tell me everything – how she would be working in another state, meeting new people, and running her own business. It sounded exciting, but I was worried about her safety (traveling and going door-to-door). Once Brooke explained the company’s safety procedures, my mind was put at ease. I was very relieved to hear that she would be traveling and living with other interns that she knew. I was also relieved to know that she had a contact person during working hours in case of an emergency.
The more Brooke talked about the internship, the more excited I became too! I had accepted the fact that she wouldn’t be coming home for the summer and I began helping her prepare for this amazing opportunity. My husband, mom, and I attended a parent meeting that helped us completely understand all that was involved in the Southwestern Advantage internship. It was great to hear former students talk about their wonderful experiences with the company. It was also great to meet her sales manager, Kevin Johnson. As I talked with him about the internship, he expressed his confidence in Brooke and how sales school would completely prepare her for this endeavor. I knew this was an awesome opportunity for Brooke to learn and grow.
Brooke is now getting ready to begin her 4th summer working in the Southwestern Advantage internship program. She loves it and I am so happy for her. The company has taught her dedication, self-motivation, confidence, determination, organization, goal setting, independence, and so much more! If you think about it, these are all the values and traits any parent would want their child to have when entering the work force or even life. I want Brooke to be equipped with what she needs to succeed in life. I am extremely grateful to Southwestern for giving my child such a life-changing experience. I am so proud of Brooke and I would not change a thing!
Kevin and Jake Hoffberg – Southwestern Internship Experience
Does any parent dream about his son or daughter selling books? For a living? For a summer? At All? It certainly wasn’t on my radar when my son Jake called me to tell me that he was going to spend the summer, somewhere he didn’t yet know, knocking on doors of people who certainly wouldn’t know, selling school books (I think he said it was “educational materials”). Fortunately for me, two things were true: I knew my son and I knew someone else whose son had worked for Southwestern one summer.
To that second point, my friend reassured me that his son had a wonderful experience working in the Southwestern summer program. I don’t recall the details of the conversation other than some of the key words: “hard work,” “nearly quit at least twice,” “stuck with it,” “made good money,” “amazing experience,” and “came back much stronger.”
To the first point, a parent must make a handful or two of important decisions while raising a child. One of the really big ones is deciding that it’s time to treat your child like an adult. Supporting Jake’s decision to spend the summer with Southwestern wasn’t about me, it was about him. I don’t think he completely knew why he was going to do it, but he did know that he wanted to and that was good enough for me.
Nobody reading this should be under any illusions about what it takes to be a “book man.” If you’re going to succeed, and you will if you follow the program, you’ll get up early, go to bed late, and work harder than you probably ever did before in between. You’ll experience more rejection than you will “success.” There will be times you’ll hate it and times you’ll know for a fact that you’re going to quit that night.
If you get through all that, and Jake did, you’ll find something on the other side. The least of it is you’ll make good money . . . more than you’ll make doing nearly any other summer job. You’ll also find a tougher, more focused, more productive, more confident version of yourself. That was the most striking thing about Jake at the end of that summer. I had confidence that he would grow as a result of his summer but I wasn’t prepared for the change. As a parent, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I knew for the first time in 18 or 19 years of knowing my son that I no longer had to worry about my son. He did this very hard thing and he did it himself. It’s one thing to be proud of your son or daughter for turning in good grades, playing a mean saxophone (one of Jake’s skills), or lettering in a sport. It’s another to greet him or her after a summer spent in the middle of nowhere Texas making a couple of thousand of cold calls and everything that went in to doing it.
Working in the Southwestern summer program is not for everyone. Not everyone has what it takes. Not everyone that starts the summer selling books finishes it selling books. But I can say with confidence that you can trust your child (or yourself) to the company and the program. The leadership of the company and the people that will work directly with the students are top notch. The product they sell is of high quality and worthy. The company is solid and ethical. The students that show up for work at the beginning of the summer are exactly the kind of people you want your son or daughter to hang around with.
Debbie currently works at Ferris State University where she is the Director of the School of Computer, Electrical, Energy, and Survey Systems.
“Mom, Mom… I have a possible summer intern job!”
“Way Cool! What is it?”
With some trepidation, but not wanting to spoil the excitement… “What kind of books?”
“Oh, they are educational books!”
OK, better than what I was imagining, but thinking I will be footing the bill for the summer job… “Do they make you buy them up front?”
“Oh no, but you do need to be part of the interview!”
Again, the trepidation… “W-h-y??”
“Well, it is a tough job and they want to make sure we have support from home when we have rough days! They want to make sure you will not encourage me to throw in the towel and come home – I know that is your response anyway! I did my homework – talked to other engineering students in the program. They had on average three times the job offers as their counterparts who had technical internships. At Southwestern, they teach us how to be confident and how to sell ourselves. I’m really excited about this job – when can they call?”
So the journey began…
I met with the managers from Southwestern and was very impressed with the company, their philosophy, and their business ethics. They really care about the students they work with and encourage them to be the best! They were very upfront and honest about the challenges my son would have – working six days a week – 12+ hours a day, learning how to run his own business, staying positive in the face of rejection… the list went on. At the same time, they described the support network they had in place for these students. Again quite impressive – from the training sessions, to sales school, to helping them with housing, to Sunday meetings… that list went on as well!
The first summer was interesting. My son was a long way from home and very focused on the process. He was up early every day and worked late into the night (this from a college student who previously rolled out of bed around 11 am, grabbed his swim suit, and headed to the pool for a very grueling four hour work day watching kids swim!). He told me before he left that he would only be able to call me on Sundays. It was tough during the week, wondering how he was doing, but rewarding when he called on Sundays. His work weeks were not always good, but he didn’t dwell on it – his attitude was directed towards his plans to do better next week. Wow! Goal setting! All in all, it was a very successful summer!
My son had always been confident, out-going, and friendly. When he came back at the end of the summer – he had matured far beyond his years. His strengths became much more apparent and his ability to work with people exploded. I am a firm believer in Southwestern. I have seen the results, the growth, the maturity, and the work ethic they instill in the interns. It is a fabulous company with mangers who “walk the walk”. They set examples for the students and help guide them towards success. I definitely recommend this program to students who are willing to accept the challenge. They will reap benefits for years to come.
Howard Fink – Parent of Bryan Fink
Over the past four years working for Southwestern Advantage, I have seen you mature into a fine and responsible man. In order to explain my statement I need to review your time with Southwestern.
I recall it was about mid February of 2008 when you said you were considering working a sales job for the summer. As we talked, I had some doubts (as all caring parents, do), but you said you would arrange for me to meet and speak with a Recruiter/Sales Manager of the company. In March of 2008 you and I met with the Recruiter and spoke over an hour regarding the following:
1.) Who or what was Southwestern…how long in business, ratings, financially, etc?
2.) How were you to get paid, how much for each sale, how often, etc?
3.) Where would you be going, where would you live, would you be safe, etc?
4.) How would they train you, who would supervise you, who would be there to help and support you as you required assistance, etc?
I felt my concerns had been answered to a point of me feeling 95% sure the summer opportunity was valid and you would be taken care of while away. No parent is ever 100% sure their child is okay and every caring parent will always worry for their child in someway. I was no different.
During that summer you and I spoke often as to sales and the ups and downs of such a career. After all, I have been in the sales industry for some thirty years and had in my experience, running into many of the same walls as you did and the wonders you had that summer. I hope you feel having my support was helpful to your success during the tough times which occurred. As any caring parent, I wished for you to be safe and successful at whatever you choose to do in life.
In August when you came home, we talked about the experience of outside sales, your memories (good and bad), and the friends you made during the summer. Although, you didn’t do as well as you had wished for as to your compensation, I explained you made a better income for three months than did many of your friends who worked at Wal-Mart or other high school jobs and you got to travel and see North Carolina. During our conversation in the late summer I noticed your communication style had come from a quiet young man into a more self assured and confident adult. It seemed as if you had a stronger belief system in yourself, as well.
Since 2008 and working with Southwestern, you have become more responsible person, more of a take-charge individual, and have a self assured belief system which is both healthy and good for you as you grow into your professional career. I believe you have been given an opportunity for which you took full advantage of in succeeding as an individual, but also as a part of a team and an organization.
Shelly Waggoner – Shelly has had a son and daughter work in the Southwestern summer program.
My parental reaction to the news of my son driving across 4 states with a “team” to sell books door to door was probably quite typical, “NO. WAY.” Up until this point, he drove home from college every weekend to have his laundry done. (And I believe, half of Tucker Halls laundry done as well!) “How would he make it without me?” and dozens of other questions and scenarios filled my head.
Fast forward 4 months –
The young man that came home was not the same, “little boy” who left. I am not sure what impressed me the most, the solid self confidence, his super positive attitude, the goals he had set and achieved, the money he made, or the fact that he took the trash bag out, tied it up, took it out, AND put in a new bag, all without being asked, while discussing Roth IRA’s!! He looked for something to fix, solve, resolve, encourage or just to ignite a passion in. He was so full of life and new goals. How mature he had become, how responsible!
The awards banquet was wonderful. The food was great. The stories from the book field were touching and funny. The bond between these “book kids” was amazing. The appreciation I felt as a parent from my son and Southwestern was overwhelming. After a 7 day stay at a Jamacian 4 star resort, compliments of Southwestern, my son was off to recruit other college kids and share the opportunity.
Fast forward 1 year –
My daughter had agreed to give it a try and at the last minute, backed out. The new team left bound for Nashville in 6 car convoy. They left without her. Now, I knew if she did this “book thing”, it would enrich her life for the rest of her life. After some persuasion, bribery, and literally putting her in the car at 4 a.m., she was off. She made it to sales school on time. It was a little harder because, she was my “little girl”, but I put her in God’s hands and got to work on the care packages.
Fast Forward 4 months –
Once again, I was astonished at the changes, the maturity, the readiness for adventure and challenge. They truly inspired me and others to dream big, achieve and just want to be better people. I felt I owed the Southwestern summer program, and especially Lester Crafton, a big thank you with flowers and candy! Again, the Awards banquet was a wonderful experience. The intense camaraderie, competition, love, and silliness in the room convinced me this “book thing” was bigger than anything I could have taught them at home or they could have learned in college or even on the job. They had endured long hours, miserable weather, repeated rejection, parking tickets, flat tires, and they were feeling on top of the world. They learned just how strong they are and more about what they want to be. They met many interesting people and travelled the world. They forged lifelong friendships with quality people who have the same zest for life they do. Not afraid of challenges, future leaders of our great country. They learned money management and other life skills only experience can teach. They learned the rewards of hard work and perseverance. How tough the world is and how much tougher they are.
I was comforted by the fact that my children had host parents, who like myself, missed having young people around. We hosted 2 students and thoroughly enjoyed having them. You can bet we did not go to sleep until both boys were home safe. I knew somewhere in Oklahoma and Texas were host parents making sure my children were home safe too. They check in every night with team leaders and after all, they are adults, I could relax.
Fast Forward 3 years –
I am still a ”book kid” mom and very proud of them both. My only advice is, when that mid week call comes with tears and frustration, STOP before you give them the way out and back home. Listen and then encourage them to get back out there, remind them of the obstacles they have already over come. Reassure them that tomorrow is a new day. Whatever you have to say to help them finish out the summer with their best effort, say it. It is a gift you can give them that they will reap benefits from for the rest of their lives. I have met hundreds of book kids by this time and I can tell you, they are a special breed. They have something extra special about them and they know it too, so they become and do great things. As a parent, I am grateful for the opportunities my children have had with Southwestern, I am proud of their hard work and stamina. I think a summer on the book field should be the new senior project. It is invaluable. I thank God for Southwestern and for my children Jessica and John Carey.
Lori Gaither – Lori’s son Logan worked with Southwestern while at the University of Arizona
Looking back at my first response to the Southwestern summer program I cannot help but laugh. We, as parents, sure can be funny sometimes! We raise our kids up for 18 or so years with the goal being to teach them to be responsible, accountable, and independent. Then they come up with this out of the box idea of selling books door to door and we sort of freak out. It’s OK to do an internship or OK to travel to another country to attend school—but THIS??!!
When we first met Emmie, the person who was recruiting our son, we were hoping to figure out our best angle to talk Logan out of selling books. We worried about all of the challenges he would face that we would not have the ability to fix. Out there he was going to have to learn firsthand about real world consequences for real world decisions.
Even though we had tried to teach Logan about natural consequences for decisions, he was still learning. His first trip onto the bookfield, could have been a series of summer courses with titles such as: Consequence Acquisition 101, Consequences for Fun and Profit 201, and the more advanced class: Trial by Fire 451.
Each September, each geographical area has a wonderful luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of students. When you get your notification about this luncheon, please do not miss it. As far as I know this type of recognition is peculiar only to Southwestern. My daughter who has had traditional summer jobs, which do not require her to live in a far off town, has done very well, but there is no grand luncheon at the end of her summer with honors, trophies, hugs, and tears. That’s right—I do not go through that event without crying at least once.
To see these young college kids take pride in the hard work they have done, and their peers have done, the connections they’ve made, the families whose lives they have affected by just chatting over a glass of cool lemonade, well, it does truly rekindle your belief in the next generation.
I am a schoolteacher in a public school gifted program in Tucson. I work with academically successful kids—we’ve raised two of them ourselves—and I am of the mind that academic success is largely due to being read to and parent involvement in their child’s education.
It has become very obvious to me that these two criteria are not all that common. As a teacher, I am also faced with constant education reform. It is also obvious that the public schools are faced with trying to level the playing field between those children who are blessed with quality parent involvement and those who are not. A parent armed with Southwestern books for their children could make THE difference in the academic success level for children. Previous to Logan or yourchild showing up on their doorstep and later delivering those beautiful products, that family may have had limited resources available.
The mere act of a young, vibrant college kid sitting down with parents at the kitchen table and saying, “I know that you believe education is important to your kids” may be the turning point, the light bulb coming on for the first time. It may be the first time some parents have ever heard that education IS important to kids.
Finally, I would encourage you to be your kid’s biggest fans. If you have frustrations with anything, talk to the supervisors, not your children. Call their student manager, or their district sales manager. But try to remain positive for your kid. It can make a huge difference. Send your kid out there with your full support and blessing. Encourage them to go out there and make a difference, by developing themselves and impacting others. At the luncheon next Fall, you can know you were a big part of their success. And rest assured that Southwestern provides a huge safety net.
Mary Bea Sullivan – Mary’s son Brendan attends Auburn University and sold for a first summer in 2010
When our son, Brendan Meyer called to say he was considering an internship with Southwestern, I was extremely skeptical. Actually, I thought he would have to be crazy to do it. I have spent many years in sales and various forms of business development and imagined selling books door-to-door would be incredibly difficult. Also, I was concerned about Brendan’s living arrangements and safety. When we met with the Southwestern representative, my husband and I were slightly less skeptical, but still wary. Ultimately, we decided that this was Brendan’s choice as a young man, and we would support him. We knew he was capable of hard work based upon his dedication to school, sports, and a previous restaurant job.
At the beginning of the summer I was still uneasy about the long hours and driving. Brendan’s living situation was great and his host family took wonderful care of him and his roommate. Brendan’s experience throughout the summer varied. Sometimes he would be “pumped up” and excited, other times, we could tell he was discouraged. He was well supported by his manager and bonded with the other students on the team. We tried to encourage as best we could from afar and avoid the temptation to over-advise. This was a great opportunity for us to trust Brendan and for him to learn to trust himself.
We were struck by the maturity we heard from Brendan as the summer progressed. We noticed he was taking responsibility for his choices, saw the connection between his attitude and his experience of life, and focused on activity–understanding that the only he could control was his dedication to the plan, not how people would respond to him, i.e. buy or not buy.
By the time he came home in August, Brendan was tired, but glad he made the commitment and stuck with it. Six months later we have noticed many residual benefits from Brendan selling for Southwestern.
• Brendan has translated his dedication in the field to classwork. With the encouragement of his mentor, he is structuring his time to study like a work day and is more organized and efficient in his approach to schoolwork.
• He is a better communicator; especially a more attentive listener.
• Brendan is enjoying the trips and connections with Southwestern friends at Auburn and around the country.
• Success breeds confidence and happiness. Even though Brendan didn’t knock the top out of his sales numbers last year, he persevered and has gained confidence from that.
I am especially grateful to Aaron Schafer for his encouragement and mentoring of Brendan. Aaron is an excellent example for any young person who wishes to be successful–not just in business, but in life. We have a daughter who is a sophomore in college and she has committed to work in the Southwestern Internship too. There are unique concerns sending a daughter out into this kind of work, but I have found comfort in meeting some of the young women who have enjoyed their experience and done well.
From my perspective as a mom, the income students earn working in the Southwestern Internship is secondary to the life lessons they learn.