Megan Baker – University of Nebraska-Kearney
I received a Facebook message from an acquaintance, someone that lived on the same floor as I did my freshman year of college, in November of 2008, about checking out an internship with Southwestern Advantage. Little did I know was that message would change my life…
In November I was selected into the Southwestern internship program. I was a Sophomore in college, captain of the cheer squad, had a part time job, but was looking to get out of Nebraska. I went to the info session, followed up on my assignments, and was selected after 3 interviews! I was excited, but not exactly convinced at that point. It was November and the summer was a long ways away! I didn’t want to worry my parents so I didn’t tell them until about a month after I was selected that I was considering doing this internship for the summer. They definitely weren’t excited with the thought of their daughter leaving for the entire summer, working in a different state, knocking on doors, with no guarantee of profit. But in my mind, it didn’t matter what they or anyone else thought because I was 19 and able to make mature decisions. It wasn’t until March, and after I had fully memorized my sales presentation, that I made my final 100% commitment to sell books for the entire summer. I was excited!
I remember my very first day on my own in Pomona, New York. I wasn’t really scared about forgetting my presentation, or not remembering my approach. I had practiced for hours upon hours and worked my butt off in sales school! What I wasn’t fully prepared for, was how much harder it was in real life than it was in practice. I wasn’t expecting that. It was approximately 7:45 and I already missed my road about twice that I had planned on starting on. The roads in New York are nothing like Nebraska. They swerve all over the place and the trees block all the signs. I finally just got frustrated and pulled off the street to the first house I saw. I had my ball cap on, binder ready, referral pad ready, sample bag packed and ready to go. I hop out of my car and sprint up to that house (no lazyness on my part this summer)!
Three knocks on the door just like I was taught, three steps back, turned to the side, and I waited as my heart pounded in my chest. The mom opened the door and I said “Hi! My name is Megan and I’m the one who has been sitting down with all the…” “Not interested”, the mom yells as she slams the door behind her. Ouch! That was like a slap in the face. I was told though that people sometimes slam doors so I didn’t let it get to me, but continued on with my day. I knocked on door after door, as I got more and more lost throughout the day. I said my approach over and over just as I had practiced for so long, yet at the end of the day I only had 18 demos (the goal is 30 per day), and zero customers. Definitely not the first day I was hoping for. But I was told that I would have zero days, and it is very common your first week. Still it was upsetting, and I cried that first night.
The next morning I set out with new hope in my heart! I had a couple of families from the first day, that were interested in me stopping back by the next morning! I worked harder and smarter that second day. That first day taught me a lot! By the end of the day I had 24 demos (getting closer to that goal) and 4 customers! That definitely helped my confidence by the end of that day! Friday was a new day again, I went out and this day I reached all 30 demos and had 5 customers by the end of the day! I had finally reached my goals of demonstrations! I was getting better at the job! Saturday was my best day of the week and I had 8 customers and of course 30 demos! I never go home anymore without 30 demos!
That first week on the book field taught me so much! I had gone into that summer thinking that it wasn’t going to be as hard as I thought it was. I mean 30 families in one day didn’t seem like that many families to see. Piece of cake, right? And I like to talk to people and people like me, so I won’t have any troubles with families sitting down with me. Wrong and wrong. That first week taught me that the only way to fully know how to do something is to jump in head first. It really humbled me having a first day of the summer with zero sales. My sales managers told me before the summer started that my first day would be difficult, that I might not have a customer my first WEEK, that I would get lost, that I would cry, that I would have people be mean to me, yet I never fully understood what they meant until I went through it. They also told me that moms would give me directions, that they would fill up my water bottle, offer me cookies, ask me to babysit (that’s my favorite), yet I was treated SO SO much nicer by residents in New York than was perceived to me and the only way I found that out was the same way that I found the difficulties.
I knocked on doors and it has changed my life. The friendships I have formed are irreplaceable. The memories I have made are the coolest. Skydiving, NYC, Boston, meeting Melissa Joan-Hart on the book field, etc… are just a few of my favorites. Even though I face some sort of hardship every summer, (I am going on my third year now) I am more thankful for those hardships because that is when I learn. The hardships are the ones that help me get through tough days, teach me discipline for when I am a teacher, and more importantly make me thankful for what I have been blessed with.
A simple facebook message has changed my life, and never will I regret the decisions that I have made since then.