Channing Porter – University of Maryland
The first time I heard about the Southwestern Advantage summer sales program I was a freshman at the University of Maryland. I was in astronomy class and some guy made an announcement and passed a survey out about a summer internship. I filled it out because I thought I would keep my options open for the summer. I already had an internship back home with a publishing company. I got a call a couple of days later, from the guy who had passed out the surveys, to come hear about an internship where you could make about $8,000 for the summer. I thought it was worth checking out.
When I got to the meeting I asked the guy that was greeting people if this was away from home for the summer. When he said that it was, I started to turn around because I thought I wanted to stay close to home for the summer. It was my first summer of college and my friends and I had multiple beach trips planned. However, I decided to stay and check it out.
I was hooked when Adam, the guy who had given me a call, said you get paid what you are worth in this business. I had been the best intern at the publishing company I worked for in high school and I was getting paid the same amount as the interns who just sat around. The next step was confronting my parents with this job where there was no guaranteed pay, where we didn’t know where we were going, with people I had just met.
The first time I told my mom I was considering the Southwestern internship for the summer, she cried. She couldn’t believe I would want to leave home for the entire summer, especially when I had gone to school out of state. I met back with Adam for the interview process and knew this is what I wanted to do. I just had to work hard, be coachable, and be committed and I would do at least average? Sign me up! I love working and being busy!
The first sale I had to make was showing my parents this was not a rash decision and I had done my research, thought this through and was making a logical decision. I sat down on my computer and wrote an email to my dad. I wrote three pages in thirty minutes explaining why I wanted to do this for the summer. The email explained that I was making this decision, to go do something hard and challenging where I could grow and gain confidence, because of the way they had raised me to make decisions. In the end, this decision to sell books changed the relationship between my parents and I. I realized I didn’t have to ask their permission to work with Southwestern for the summer because I was an adult, but I did want their blessing. Once my student manager came down to Roanoke, VA to meet them, they felt infinitely better about me going away from home for the summer.
The time from when I decided to sell books until sales school is all a little blurry. I remember going to every first year meeting I could, meeting every one that I was going to be working with, and meeting up with managers as much as possible so I could learn from them.
I remember Adam telling me that sales school would be a little weird, but he also told me what the number one first year in the company who made $40,000 did at her first sales school, so I decided to be coachable and do what she did. Therefore, I had my sales talk memorized before sales school, I jumped out of bed in the mornings, I role-played with other student managers at breakfast who were better than me, and I used every free second to practice.
It paid off because my first week on the bookfield I made a little over $1,500. The reason I was number seven in the company my first summer was because I saw over 30 people a day and worked about 84 hours per week my first three weeks. After those first three weeks, selling books and finding a way to solve problems I encountered got a lot easier. All of the adversity and problems I faced my first summer did not faze me because I had already formed the habit of working.
Making the decision and fighting to sell books door to door was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I am so thankful for the direction my life turned after deciding to sell books.