Kate Marshall – Utah State
Unlike most, it didn’t take much for me to decide to do the Southwestern Advantage program. I think it was within the first 10 minutes of the informational session that I mentally signed up. It never even came to my mind that it might be a scam (it isn’t), or to call it a pyramid scheme (it isn’t). Of course, I was just a naive freshman girl. It didn’t even occur to me that I might not make any money, because I thought the system they explained sounded like it made a lot of sense. But, of course, I called my parents to tell them that I had found a summer gig! Working in Delaware with this lady I’d just met from Arizona. Yeah. All my Mom said was, “Call your Dad, Kate”
And my Dad loaded me with questions like, “Are you going to be an independent contractor? Where exactly are you going for the summer? Who are you going to live with? Who is this person you talked to today? And what are they doing at Utah State? Is this a pyramid scheme in any way, or is it multi-level marketing? Are there any investments that need to be made before you participate? If you go away does that mean you can’t spend the weekends at our cabin? What if you don’t make any money?” I didn’t know the answer to any of them. Which didn’t scare me too much, but it seemed to scare my parents a lot. Anyway, my manager drove the hour and a half to my house just to meet with them and console them about my seemingly rash decision, and in the end they agreed that even though there are a lot of risks involved, it is a legitimate program with a lot of really neat advantages. If I wanted to participate in it and be insane, they wouldn’t get in the way.
So, in May I buckled up in my new friend Ivy’s car to take the trip to Nashville. After a vigorous week at sales school full of hundreds of energetic, driven college students, endless practicing, and hilarious motivational speakers we were assigned to our areas. I did not have a car my first summer so after moving in with my new host family, the Hassetts, I was dropped off for my first day in my area. All alone. With my bike, Louis. It was one of the hardest days of my life.
I had definitely expected it to be hard, but you can never really predict what random things will go wrong every day when you’re running your own business. Louis’s seat was falling off, and would wiggle around as I would ride it. The little hills that were in the neighborhood I was working in turned into HUGE MOUNTAINS in my eyes as I climbed them. The map I had was confusing, and wildly inaccurate. It seemed like everybody I found home to show the books to were elderly and didn’t have kids anymore. I forgot my presentation whenever people would actually let me talk to them. Not to mention, I was mentally and physically exhausted by noon. Halfway through the day the only thought going through my head was, “Why isn’t this working for me?? I have how many more days of this??” I was extremely frustrated. But I remember telling my manager that I would keep working no matter what came up, and I believed her when she told me that it was just a numbers game. So I persevered and kept talking to people, and eventually I found a couple people who really liked some of the books I was showing that day, and actually ordered some! I had around 12 customers my first week, which increased to about 25 by week three.
As I went through the summer, I got exponentially better at the selling part of the job, not pressuring people to buy, creating strong bonds with the other kids I was working with, learning massive amounts about myself and what I was capable of, and most importantly, learning that I had the power to overcome any challenge that got in the way of me achieving my goals. I can’t explain the feeling that comes from doing something really hard without anyone watching over your shoulder, and reaping the rewards that you alone created for yourself. Working with Southwestern was a truly difficult, truly beautiful experience.
The Southwestern Advantage system works. If students actually do what they say they’ll do – give their best attitude & effort – I am 100% confident they will be successful.