Conrad Alagaban – Northwood University
At the end of Election Day, November 2, 2010, a great number of changes were happening. In Dallas, Texas, a handful of 30, 40, 50 year olds sat panel-style around a large oak table in an office. Everyone was tired after a long day of talking to a lot of young people. Outside the office, a line filled with a couple dozen college students snaked outside the office into the hallway. Waiting on the other side of the table sat me, a 23 year old business management major just finishing my degree from Northwood University. I felt ready, confident, and knowledgeable. One of the gentlemen looked at me and asked, “How much?” After calculating the numbers in my head, I said… “Each of you get $80 today. Ya’ll did great! Please let the next group of workers in.” They replied, “Thanks, Boss!” I logged in their hours of work to my computer and paid them in cash.
Five years ago, as a freshman in college, I did not have a clue as to what would be in store for me when I finished my university training. I never dreamed that graduating from college I would already own a profitable headhunting company, Con Soleil Business Services, LLC. We provide our clients a temporary worker base for their short term projects. I definitely owe my success to the skills and experience I gained from with the Southwestern Advantage Internship throughout my college career. The following is a good mix of some of those lessons and experiences.
Summer 2009, I felt lucky. The day the largest employer in the state of Michigan declared bankruptcy, the Dynasty organization was settling into our host family’s houses statewide. People were being laid off left and right, and we were getting acquainted with our new environment and thinking about our prospective clients. It blew my mind to hear grown men and women say, “There just aren’t any jobs left around here anymore. They’re all going overseas!” Every street I visited that summer had a foreclosed house, or a newly rented foreclosure. Contrary to the popular belief in Michigan, here was my organization of college kids deciding our own futures and, creating our own opportunities. How tough was our job? Here is the gist of it. Each student went door to door meeting complete strangers and after 20 minutes of dialogue saying, “Thank you for your $180 deposit today. You can trust me to be back in 3 months with the investment you made in your kids’ education. Please have the other half of the money ready, along with cookies or ice cream! See you around!”
So why did I feel lucky? The biggest thing I’ve gotten to practice in the Southwestern Internship is cultivating the right mindset for success, through goal setting and following through. For five summers, I put in the 80 hours a week and presented to over 15,000 people. I learned to first lead and motivate myself through 12 hour work days. And more rewarding than my own personal growth is helping those around me achieve theirs. So then, I learned how to train others’ to reach their goals and overcome any obstacle by being self reliant. One of those is my best friend and business partner, Adrian Solis. He recruits with me out of the University of North Texas. Reflective of the idea of training for self reliance, the company I built today can virtually run itself. This allows me to continue working with Southwestern as a Corporate Recruiter to reach other young people with a vision for their future.
If not for learning and practicing how to make my own way in the toughest of situations, I would still be waiting for a handout or a free-be, someone would hopefully toss my way. I would have the same mindset I saw in those unemployed people with no disabilities and young enough to restart but incapacitated by the unknown and unforeseeable future. Zig Zigler once said, “People use up the world’s natural resources by depleting them. People use up their own natural resources by never applying them at all.” I have gained so much confidence by embracing the idea that the amount of failure I encounter translates directly into success. I do not fail on purpose, but I am energized by all that I gain from it. So I have the strength to stand and meet success when it comes, and that has made all the difference!
Thank you Southwestern Advantage for not holding my hand and teaching me to accept failure, placing me in situations that tested and improved my character and skills, for the most amazing group of people I have ever met, who have trained and influenced me, have become great friends, and great business partners, the chance to travel everywhere, those ridiculous trips to tropical beaches and ski resorts, and most importantly for a more positive perspective of life.