The Good, the Bad, and the Worthwhile
Chris Samuels, University of North Carolina
I will never forget the day that I set off to Glencoe, MN for my first summer in the Southwestern Advantage program. I had never been off the east coast and I was amazed at the difference as I started to experience the Midwest. Pulling into Glencoe, I remember breathing deeply to regain control of my emotions……they were all over the place.
- Excited about the opportunity to run my own business
- Looking forward to the challenge
- Nervous about talking to people one on one and dealing with the rejection
- Leary about making mistakes in my sales presentation
- Worried that I could fail
- Committed to getting “back up” every time I “fell down”
- Yearning to replace that feeling of “winning a wrestling tournament” – true success that is all you!
One of the most challenging things for me in my first summer experience was dealing with a totally different environment. I guess that I pictured selling in an area that was like where I grew up, the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. My territory was Sibley County, MN. The population of the county of Sibley was 19,500 people. The biggest town in Sibley County was Arlington, MN – population 2100. My High School in Raleigh had more than 2100 people. Everyone in Sibley, County was a farmer. I had never been on a farm.
A summer in the Southwestern Internship is about choices, just like life. In my situation in Sibley County, I could choose to use this as an excuse or choose to succeed anyway. I dove in. I learned about the difference between sweet corn and field corn. I learned that everyone that raised dairy cows was on a schedule, some milked 3 times a day, some two times a day. I really came to understand what a cash crop was and how it impacted the economy. Beats were a cash crop in Sibley because the government regulated how many acres of beats could be planted in the county. Beat farmers were rich! More than anything, I learned how to work hard, adapt to my environment and have fun with the people.
I talked to 30 people a day and met just about everyone in Sibley County, the people were great. I learned how to talk and relate to timid housewives. I learned to talk and relate to farmers. I learned to talk and relate to business owners. I learned to talk and relate to people from just about every socio-economic background.
I had an incredibly successful first summer in my Southwestern Advantage internship. I tell people that I was smart enough to be dumb enough to be open minded to all the suggestions for success that they gave me. I worked really hard…. Physically……and equally importantly, mentally. I was extremely coachable. Probably the biggest factor in my success is that I learned to keep a positively optimistic attitude. I know that this will be huge in life!
I remember the drive home from Glencoe, MN after that first Southwestern summer. It was the most amazing thing. I sold 3820 units my first summer. That was a profit of just over $11,500, and today would be $19,000, which was 4 times more than I had made working construction the previous summer. However, the thing that made the drive home amazing was the sense of accomplishment, I set out to do it and I did it. Not because of my parents, not because of people that knew me or knew of me, not because of my “potential”……… I did it because my effort, drive and determination. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life.
Vice-President of Southwestern Advantage