Matt Baumgartner – University of Maryland
I heard about Southwestern Advantage at the University of Maryland.
I grew up in an over-protective environment. Part of this was due to my parents, but part of it was also self-imposed. I was definitely the quiet/shy kid, never quite fitting in nor able to get comfortable. I had always gotten straight A’s, but despite the effort I put into getting the grades, it didn’t give me satisfaction/happiness. Despite my shyness however, I wasn’t afraid of hard work; I loved being productive.
Every summer since I was 14 I had worked at my dad’s boat dealership and busted my butt for him. I was surrounded by people who didn’t enjoy working; they only complied with what they were told to do. They complained every chance they could, about anything and everything. They cut corners. They were “friends” with each other, but then stabbed each other in the back. They looked down upon me because I was young and the boss’s son, that I was just a privileged spoiled kid. I prided myself in outworking the other employees, so I often got frustrated when I didn’t get recognition or appreciated for my effort. It also irritated me that I got paid less than them just because they had “seniority”, that all they had to do was punch a time clock to make money.
I value those summers; they helped me realize that this type of work/attitude was not for me. I had to do something different, something for myself, something where I could start from scratch and make a name for myself.
I started opening up more in college, but for the most part was still a shy and nerdy kid. That March when Jami approached me about Southwestern, I was really looking for something to do that summer. I had been sending out my resume to different aerospace companies, but never did any follow up work.
The next day, I almost didn’t go to the meeting, mostly due to my social anxiety. When I arrived, I saw an attractive lady who was dressed up and standing outside, so of course I got nervous and continued to walk past, pretending like I was lost. After 3 times past, she finally asked if I was looking for the Southwestern information meeting. Embarrassed, I mumbled something about being lost and stepped into the meeting.
After my initial awkwardness passed, I began to listen to the advantages and challenges they were explaining.
1. It was an effort-based reward system; I would be paid what I was worth.
2. It was a chance to truly break out of my shell, and not just in the sense that I would learn how to relate and talk with people, but also getting away from another summer of being sheltered in the familiarity of home.
3. It was going to be tough, unlike my classes (I graduated with a 3.9 GPA, school wasn’t hard). I knew that completing a challenging program would give me a ton of confidence.
4. The people I would be surrounded by sounded like hard-working, positive people who loved life and sought adventure.
5. Jami was confident and charismatic –– qualities I wanted to develop.
Sold. There was no decision making process for me, I decided during the info meeting that I wanted to do this. My parents were against it, of course. I was their baby, they were used to me being home, but they weren’t going to tell me “no”, they saw that I was determined. Jami must have thought I was a basket case because of how uncomfortable and jittery I was during our interviews. She selected me, trained me, and off we went.
That summer in California was the best thing I’ve done in my life so far. It was just as tough as promised, but worth every second of it. I cannot even begin to describe how much this experience has done for me in terms of confidence, social ability, and all around outlook on life. That summer I ended up making a little over $13,000 and ended up being a top first year salesperson.
I stayed with Southwestern Advantage for six years. I learned more, grew more, and developed more than I did in the first 19 years of my life combined. I became a top salesperson, recruited and trained over 30 people, had top teams, and had top organizations. I got out exactly what I put in, and have never regretted a second.