Matt Benson – University of Nebraska
My Southwestern Advantage experience started in March of 2009. I was sitting in my dorm doing homework when I got a call from my future manager. He asked me if I would be interested in learning more about an internship where I could gain real world experience and where the average intern makes over $8,700. I naturally said yes, because I had just taken out my first student loan and didn’t like the idea of being in debt. After the 3rd interview I was selected and the training began. I met with my manager, Keith, once a week leading up to sales school where he tried to prepare for anything and everything possible. The thing I didn’t know was that hearing Keith talk about how hard everything would be and how hard I perceived everything to be were two different things.
We left for sales school the Saturday after finals had finished, and I was nervous, excited, happy, sad, and every other emotion possible. Sales school itself was very upbeat and gave me confidence that I’d be able to do this job and do it well. I remember specifically the last day of sales school, Friday, where we met with our manager one last time before we headed to our sales locality. We had a conversation where I gave him my word that if I went to my sales locality I would work hard, study hard, and be coachable the rest of the summer no matter how hard it got (and I knew it would get hard). I remember driving down the interstate to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and I called my dad letting him know that if I ever called him wanting to quit that he tell me that I’m being irrational and to “suck it up”.
My first week in the Southwestern Advantage internship I was much worse at the job than I thought I would be. I had put in a lot of time before the summer and in sales school all to have only two customers my first week worth 7 units ($35) for 80 hours of work. Hourly that works out to be a whopping $.44/hour, and I left working for the power company at $9/hour for this? I recall the first Sunday meeting where I met with my manager crying about the work I’d put in with close to zero results. The only thing he could say was: Did you put in the hours? Yes (roughly 80 hours), Did you put in the demos? Yes (30/day) Did you have a good attitude? Honestly, not the whole time — I only had two customers the whole week. He confidently responded, keep your attitude up and you’ll tear it up this summer.
The following Monday I had 5 customers; more than double my first week. I finished with 22 customers my second week, and as you might imagine, I had a much better attitude. I steadily increased all summer finishing in the top 100 first year interns in the company, winning the sizzler trip, and making over $12,500. The money was nice I paid off my student loans and haven’t taken another one since, but the reason I’m coming back for my 3rd summer is because the life skills Southwestern Advantage teaches me: the importance and the impact of controlling your attitude and effort.