Mary Bea Sullivan – Mary’s son Brendan attends Auburn University and sold for a first summer in 2010
When our son, Brendan Meyer called to say he was considering an internship with Southwestern Advantage, I was extremely skeptical. Actually, I thought he would have to be crazy to do it. I have spent many years in sales and various forms of business development and imagined selling books door-to-door would be incredibly difficult. Also, I was concerned about Brendan’s living arrangements and safety. When we met with the Southwestern representative, my husband and I were slightly less skeptical, but still wary. Ultimately, we decided that this was Brendan’s choice as a young man, and we would support him. We knew he was capable of hard work based upon his dedication to school, sports, and a previous restaurant job.
At the beginning of the summer I was still uneasy about the long hours and driving. Brendan’s living situation was great and his host family took wonderful care of him and his roommate. Brendan’s experience throughout the summer varied. Sometimes he would be “pumped up” and excited, other times, we could tell he was discouraged. He was well supported by his manager and bonded with the other students on the team. We tried to encourage as best we could from afar and avoid the temptation to over-advise. This was a great opportunity for us to trust Brendan and for him to learn to trust himself.
We were struck by the maturity we heard from Brendan as the summer progressed. We noticed he was taking responsibility for his choices, saw the connection between his attitude and his experience of life, and focused on activity–understanding that the only he could control was his dedication to the plan, not how people would respond to him, i.e. buy or not buy.
By the time he came home in August, Brendan was tired, but glad he made the commitment and stuck with it. Six months later we have noticed many residual benefits from Brendan selling for Southwestern.
• Brendan has translated his dedication in the field to classwork. With the encouragement of his mentor, he is structuring his time to study like a work day and is more organized and efficient in his approach to schoolwork.
• He is a better communicator; especially a more attentive listener.
• Brendan is enjoying the trips and connections with Southwestern friends at Auburn and around the country.
• Success breeds confidence and happiness. Even though Brendan didn’t knock the top out of his sales numbers last year, he persevered and has gained confidence from that.
I am especially grateful to Aaron Schafer for his encouragement and mentoring of Brendan. Aaron is an excellent example for any young person who wishes to be successful–not just in business, but in life. We have a daughter who is a sophomore in college and she has committed to work in the Southwestern Internship too. There are unique concerns sending a daughter out into this kind of work, but I have found comfort in meeting some of the young women who have enjoyed their experience and done well.
From my perspective as a mom, the income students earn working in the Southwestern Advantage Internship is secondary to the life lessons they learn.