Maurice Howell – University of North Carolina
When I first heard about the Southwestern Advantage Internship and selling educational products, I really had no idea of what it was; I only knew that it was going to be easy only because I happened to be “great” at talking to people. I soon realized my first summer that a lot of effort (more than just being great with people) was and will always be required to be successful in this program.
My first summer I had the pleasure to be assigned to South Gate, MI. It’s a great middle class town with lots of car manufacturing workers that wanted their kids to do better than they had so education was definitely a priority.
I was extremely excited about knocking on my first door, but unfortunately I got lost and started knocking in the town next to my own area. I was there the whole first week and my first customers were in an area that I didn’t even know anything about. That made me laugh that if I knocked anywhere, even the wrong city, there was at least one person out there who was waiting to buy!
I also realized early in that first summer internship that I would run into lots of situations where I didn’t know what exactly to do, but had to take action anyway. That’s what I enjoyed the most working in the Southwestern Advantage program, was that I became a problem solver. My student manager always said, “Focus on a solution, not the problem!”
The most challenging thing for me my first summer was being alone because, again, “I am great with people,” but only because I get to practice a lot by surrounding myself with a lot of friends and acquaintances. As I endured my weakness that first summer, and had to learn to coach myself, the job actually became a whole lot more fun. I learned to have more fun with the prospects and customers – strangers who I learned to make a connection with. That’s what became so fun: learning how to be great with strangers – turning a weakness I had into a strength I now had in a very short amount of time.
All of the principles such as an rigorous work ethic, positive outlook on situations, and the character I feel I built are reasons why I continued year after year to stick with Southwestern Advantage as my first career. I always desire to be a better version of myself and to add value to others lives. This was where I could do just that.