Chris Salata – University of Kentucky
One random phone call on one random night changed my life for the better in a multitude of ways. I was actually at the library studying for an exam in my freshman year of college when a strange incoming number appeared on my cell phone. I always enjoy answering weird numbers so I picked up and met who unbeknownst to me would become one of my best friends. This recruiter told me of an internship opportunity I was recommended for where I could make $8,000 dollars in a summer and I replied, “No thanks, sounds like a scam, and why don’t you tell me who recommended me?” thinking that was a great fake line to get college students, he then mentioned one of my friend’s name and of whom he was planning on working with. Shocked I said, “Wow, Yeah! I know her!” and after being open minded and hearing him out, decided to come to a Southwestern Internship information session.
While I was there, I learned about how great of an opportunity Southwestern Advantage COULD be. COULD. He never presented it as easy, which helped me to trust him. I remember my mind dancing back and forth to both extremes, “THIS IS AWESOME,” then “THIS IS RIDICULOUS, THERE’S NO WAY I WOULD DO THIS,” back and forth, again and again. Finally by the end of that session my mind was made up that I could do well at this, because anything else I had really applied myself and put a ton of effort into I had always done above average. But that wasn’t the end of it.
By the time I came back to meet with him the next day again I had decided, “This isn’t for me this year, but maybe next year.” He always remained calm, understanding, and open to hearing what thoughts helped me make my decisions. We talked about healthy ways to make choices, as well as when to make them and at what times your mind is being rational. (Wow! Who else in your life teaches you things like that?) He showed me some more information to help my skepticism and showed me reasons why this is a decision that’s better to jump on rather then put off. So again he helped me back on the southwestern horse. But that STILL wasn’t the end of it.
My mom also wasn’t very keen on me selling books door-to-door for a whole summer in Pennsylvania. So after returning home, after final exams, we had a long talk about it, and she just told me that she was very worried about me and didn’t think I was ready for what this job was going to take. She liked my manager and signed the support letter for the company but just told me it probably wasn’t the best decision. For possibly the first time in my life, my mom was wrong. But I didn’t know that yet, and agreed with her and told her I would talk to my manager that night to let him know that I wouldn’t do it. He actually called me before I got to him. Again he listened. He understood. He asked me what I wanted. He asked me how I thought I could do if I were to come out. He asked me what my concerns were. It’s strange to say this, but he cared for me, and I could tell. He told me that if I would drive to Nashville and decide this is what I wanted to do for the summer, he would help me get all the things out of it that I wanted and that we discussed while training. He even said he would pay for the hotel for me, and that when I made lots of money he could pay me back if I wanted.
Thank God for my manager. I made over $20,000 dollars that summer, but that’s not even close to the amount of money I’ll make from the skills, lessons, philosophies, and discipline I’ve learned from the Southwestern Internship. My mom, although she missed me, couldn’t have been prouder at the end of the summer. I knew that all of that time I spent was incredibly well invested.
I could probably write a 20 page paper on things that I’ve not just learned but applied to my life from Southwestern. Something I doubt most college graduates could do about what they learned from their four or more years in college. But if I narrowed that paper down to one thing, it would be this; How to choose your perspective. Your Southwestern Advantage experience is 150% entirely what you make it. One lesson I’ve learned from all of these incredible people, who are so much wiser than me, is that everything is exactly what you make it. Every day is how you choose to look at it, and every experience is the way you chose to perceive it. We can all look at our surroundings, our relationships, our jobs, and our lives and find infinite things to complain about, but I have built and developed the skill, yes the skill, to look at all of these things and find things to be grateful for. (Yes, being grateful is a learned skill!) And because of it you wouldn’t believe how enjoyable my life is to live.