231 cities in 13 countries. Scuba diving in Cancun, skydiving over Texas and Oklahoma, snorkeling in the Bahamas, wake boarding in Argentina, climbing mountains in Peru, playing soccer on the beach in Chile… I’m not bragging, this is what I want everyone to have the option of doing. The life I’ve lived so far in my 23 years has been so extraordinary, and I want to share it with everyone.
Four years ago: I am a freshman at North Carolina State University in Business, working at the on-campus convenient store (C-Store) and have no direction except that I want to do well, be successful, have lots of extra income, have awesome friends and see the world.
John Carey came into the C-Store and handed me a survey. I filled it out, gave it back, was given a call that night and heard about Southwestern’s super-hard summer program. My only other option was $8.55 an hour stocking the dairy section at the Lowe’s foods grocery store. It sounded really hard, but John is an awesome guy, and had a spark in his eyes that I wanted. He told me it would be tough, but if I worked hard and didn’t quit, I would do well.
He was right. It was ridiculously challenging. The most challenging thing I’ve ever done. But I didn’t quit, and I did work hard, very hard. And I did do well. I worked for 7 weeks in the Southwestern Advantage summer program, and after, I left for a 5 month study abroad in Argentina I had already planned. I made just over $10,500 in those 7 weeks.
Why is it so hard? It is hard because I have always been good at things I’ve done. I have always had good grades and with 7 brothers and sisters I’ve always been a decent communicator. So being very, very bad at something I’ve never done before, and even more, being bad in front of moms and dads I just met was embarrassing at first, and terrifying. Waking up and knowing that you’re going to be very bad all day isn’t fun at first.
But it gets better. That’s what John told me, and after a week or two of being really bad (albeit still making a few hundred dollars) it did get better. My best week my first summer I made over $3,000. I was disappointed when I had to leave for Argentina and not keep going. But it’s Argentina, so I wasn’t too disappointed.
4 years later. I just finished my 4th summer, graduated from NC State, have a killer resume (I put my resume on monster for giggles and received 7 calls in 3 days for interviews), and have the complete confidence that I can do anything I want with my life, because even though failure is inevitable, it won’t stop me. I’ll just get back up and keep going and learn from my mistakes to get better and better.
Last summer, as a senior in college, I led 22 students across the country, taught them how to run their own businesses, coached them throughout the summer, trained them and motivated them weekly, and lead by example. Seventeen of those students finished the summer, ran over a quarter million dollar business in total in 12 weeks, and made over $150,000 for themselves. Half of those 17 won an all-inclusive 5 day vacation to Puerto Vallarta over Thanksgiving break. That is confidence-building.
Is this program for you? I have no idea. I do know that if you love challenge, are committed to things when they get hard, and want to get paid for your results, then it is. If not, go do something else this summer that is challenging. You won’t regret the results.