Kevin Hoffberg – Kevin’s son Jake worked with Southwestern Advantage while at Indiana University
Does any parent dream about his son or daughter selling books? For a living? For a summer? At All? It certainly wasn’t on my radar when my son Jake called me to tell me that he was going to spend the summer, somewhere he didn’t yet know, knocking on doors of people who certainly wouldn’t know, selling school books (I think he said it was “educational materials”). Fortunately for me, two things were true: I knew my son and I knew someone else whose son had worked for Southwestern one summer.
To that second point, my friend reassured me that his son had a wonderful experience working in the Southwestern summer program. I don’t recall the details of the conversation other than some of the key words: “hard work,” “nearly quit at least twice,” “stuck with it,” “made good money,” “amazing experience,” and “came back much stronger.”
To the first point, a parent must make a handful or two of important decisions while raising a child. One of the really big ones is deciding that it’s time to treat your child like an adult. Supporting Jake’s decision to spend the summer with Southwestern wasn’t about me, it was about him. I don’t think he completely knew why he was going to do it, but he did know that he wanted to and that was good enough for me.
Nobody reading this should be under any illusions about what it takes to be a “book man.” If you’re going to succeed, and you will if you follow the program, you’ll get up early, go to bed late, and work harder than you probably ever did before in between. You’ll experience more rejection than you will “success.” There will be times you’ll hate it and times you’ll know for a fact that you’re going to quit that night.
If you get through all that, and Jake did, you’ll find something on the other side. The least of it is you’ll make good money . . . more than you’ll make doing nearly any other summer job. You’ll also find a tougher, more focused, more productive, more confident version of yourself. That was the most striking thing about Jake at the end of that summer. I had confidence that he would grow as a result of his summer but I wasn’t prepared for the change. As a parent, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I knew for the first time in 18 or 19 years of knowing my son that I no longer had to worry about my son. He did this very hard thing and he did it himself. It’s one thing to be proud of your son or daughter for turning in good grades, playing a mean saxophone (one of Jake’s skills), or lettering in a sport. It’s another to greet him or her after a summer spent in the middle of nowhere Texas making a couple of thousand of cold calls and everything that went in to doing it.
Working in the Southwestern Advantage summer program is not for everyone. Not everyone has what it takes. Not everyone that starts the summer selling books finishes it selling books. But I can say with confidence that you can trust your child (or yourself) to the company and the program. The leadership of the company and the people that will work directly with the students are top notch. The product they sell is of high quality and worthy. The company is solid and ethical. The students that show up for work at the beginning of the summer are exactly the kind of people you want your son or daughter to hang around with.