It all began with one post on Facebook. I was in my freshman year at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. It was around Christmas time when I saw some pictures from California posted by one of my old high school friends. I wanted to know more, so I messaged her. I was curious what it was about and how could I possibly get to America too, my dream country. We met for coffees a few times, and she told me everything about the program. My plan for that upcoming summer was just to work abroad and learn English, but I was impressed with all the advantages she spoke about such as improving my CV, gaining confidence, earning money and facing a big challenge. It all sounded like a great opportunity.
After I realized that I would need to sell books door to door with no guarantees, I wasn’t as excited as before. I started to look at other options. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t know anybody else who worked in the US, and I didn’t want to go on my own and do some kind of boring job as an au-pair or a waitress. What gave me confidence to do this however was the change that I saw in her as a person. I hadn’t seen her for 2 years and then there she was – a lot more confident. She seemed to be happier, she was able to speak in public, and what was even more impressive – she did so in English! And then I met another person who sold books, and they seemed to be really cool too – hardworking, confident, and had a bigger vision for their future. So I decided to do this “crazy book thing” and now I know it was one of the best decisions of my life.
During my first summer in California, I feel like I learned more than I had in 3 years at university. What a real adult life really looks like. I learned that success doesn’t come easy, and there are no shortcuts in life. I know I can be successful in anything if I work for it. After working long hours each day, hearing so many “NOs” and solving problems every day on my own, I can tell I’ve matured a lot and I’m definitely stronger now. I realize how important my attitude is and that having a positive mental attitude is a choice. After visiting with hundreds of families and seeing all their different situations, I know what kind of parent and a person I want to be and what kind I don’t. I appreciate my own family and friends more than ever before. Despite the fact that I had a really slow start and didn’t sell a single book my first 3 days, I was committed to finishing the summer like I said I would. By sticking to the commitments I made, I ended up in top 10% company-wide, earning quite a decent amount of money. After that first summer I was promoted to become a Student Leader. The feeling at the end of that summer was priceless.
As a Student Leader I decided that I wanted to give this opportunity to as many people as possible. For my second summer in Arizona, I recruited a 9-person team to work with me. Being a Student Leader helped me understand that I’m not the “center of the universe” and it took focus from myself to other people. They say the teacher learns the most, and now I understand too that everybody is different in how they learn. I have also learned how to embrace and create relationships with different personalities. I’m going into my third summer, and I’m building a big team again. I just love the opportunity of helping the young ambitious people to set and reach their goals, not only with Southwestern Advantage, but also in their lives.
There are many people who think that selling some books door-to-door must be the worst job in the world. There are also people who would never do anything out of their comfort zone. There are people who are successful; there are people who are not. For me, Southwestern Advantage is not just a summer job anymore; it’s a lifestyle of constant personal growth. It’s being part of an amazing group of people who support and inspire me. Thanks to Andrea, Josef, Petra, Robin, Patricia, Veronika and my team members for bringing the best out in me.
I would definitely recommend this internship to anybody who likes challenges and who is willing to work hard and learn. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s okay if you are scared or unsure. I was too. But you’ll be fine. Tens of thousands of people have already been successful at it. You can do it too!
Connect with Dominika’s Facebook Business Page: fb.com/DominikaTheBookgirlStefanikova
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