Jon Pinches – Arizona State University
I first heard about the Southwestern Advantage Summer Program after I filled out one of those little surveys in one of my business classes at Arizona State University. Actually, I apparently filled out 3 or 4 of them before I finally got a call from my future student manager, Monique Flores. I was a sophomore Business Management major, wanting to eventually run my own business(es) and I had never thought much about the steps necessary to get there besides coming up with a profitable business idea and getting a degree from a good business school. While I feel like I have accomplished both of those things without help from Southwestern and my three crazy summers, I know that I would not be the Jon Pinches I am today without the serious growing experiences I have had.
My first summer was a perfect example of the stubborn, unteachable person I used to be. I learned in those three months how impossible some things can be if you refuse to listen to the people coaching you. I had never worked harder physically in my entire life, but I had also never been so poorly paid for my effort either. This job is miserable if you refuse to be coachable. I learned that I was not any naturally better at anything involved in this job than any of my peers. I have always trusted myself much more than I trusted other people and it made me unhappy. It was an excellent growing experience, nonetheless, and it fueled everything I have done with this company since.
There was never any doubt in my mind that I would return for a second summer. I took about an hour or two in the fall after that first summer and talked out loud with myself about how I had only failed myself and how I would do better in my next summer. So I did all of those things which I had failed at previously. It was so simple, but it resulted in three times better production. It felt amazing to have a very profitable experience after that, but it was also quite humbling. I had made myself look pretty silly. I thought about what my first summer could have been if I had simply done what I was told instead of trying to do it my own way. Either way, I had a new sense of accomplishment as well as an award known as “Person of the Year”, given to the person with the biggest sales improvement from one summer to the next.
Now, after three summers, and a fourth one on the way, I could not be more excited for the challenges yet to come. I am still trying to be more coachable, but now I am doing it from the other side. I graduated from Arizona State University in May 2010, and I have done pretty well with Southwestern. After my third summer, I was asked to become a full-time recruiter and I now select, train, and lead students at Utah State University to do the same summer job. It is very interesting seeing some of the same qualities in my team members that I remember in myself from before and during that first summer. Some of those things excite me, while some of them worry me. Now I feel like I am much better equipped to be an example to these students and I can help them avoid the mistakes I made.
With this new skill set, which I am continuing to develop, I know I can run a better business in the future. I will know how to effectively communicate with all types of people because I will have now done it over 10,000 times after this summer. I will know how to help people get something they want because I will have done that with over 1,000 customers. I will also know how to handle all of the prospecting, presentations, ordering, scheduling, accounting, sales, inventory, and delivery in a business because I did all of these things myself for four summers. Finally, and most importantly to me, I will have learned how to teach all of these skills to young people, help them to work hard, and help them get what they want from their lives before I turned 24. I want to say thank you to Southwestern Advantage for all they have helped me accomplish and all I am going to accomplish with my new skills. Even though I am still the most stubborn person I know, I am making a genuine effort to improve.