Nate Wolverton – Michigan State University
Oh first summer. I’m writing this at 7:45 am in a Starbucks in downtown Chicago before I go into work for a company I just started with and love so far! “You can’t always get what you want” by the Rolling Stones is playing and I can’t help but laugh because of how relevant the song is to a first summer. There is a ton of great memories resurfacing. It was very challenging but definitely one of the best and most important decisions I’ve made in life so far.
I was pretty much on board as soon as I got the initial call, in my dorm room at Michigan State, from some guy who said the average intern made $8000. $8000 was all I needed to hear. Little did I know that after 4 summers this random guy would become one of the most impactful people in my life (Aaron Schafer). I didn’t know anyone in the group other than meeting them at our Southwestern Advantage internship meetings, but here I was on my way to St. Louis MO!
My roommate Kyle and I were set to live with a young guy who had an extra room in his house open. Literally as we are in his driveway he tells us over the phone that he gave the room to someone else. The company was going to pay for a hotel while the managers found another host family, but Kyle had a friend who lived nearby and we were going to stay with for a few nights. But after we just spent an entire week hearing about having a problem solving mindset, Kyle and I decide to do it ourselves, by knocking on doors! We just went around asking if anyone knew of any families in the area who had hosted students in the past and might be willing to this summer. After many hours and weird looks, we met a really sweet lady in this really nice suburb, who was an empty nester. She told us to come back and talk to her husband later. We didn’t know if it would work out, but we kept a great attitude and we had faith that we would work everything out, and we did.
When we went back to meet that lady’s husband, he turned out to be the chief of the police in Wentzville, MO. So after a few background checks and a call to our parents, the Noonans let us in as if we were one of their own (they had 9 kids btw, all grown and gone) and it turned out being the absolute best thing that could of happened to us, they were so incredible and nice. After 4 summers of living with different families, they are by far still the best living situation I have seen, or even heard of. And that would not of happened to us had everything went perfectly as planned!
That situation really taught me to look at challenges as an opportunity. That was one of the first of many challenges that I would have to overcome on the bookfield. Most of the challenges are really with yourself and your emotions. It’s not extremely likely that a housing situation will fall through the day you get there, but looking back, the most difficult challenges were not things like a host family falling through. The most difficult challenges were the ones that were with myself. Not letting myself give up or fall short of my goals, forcing myself to believe in myself when it felt like every door I knocked on was against me. To me the summer is a constant battle between the “big you” and the “little you”, and you ultimately decide who wins.
That determines which version of you will be greeting the next challenge that comes along, either the “big you” that will go over, under, around and directly through challenges, or the “little you” that will run from them. In everyday life excuses make it easy to be the “little you”. Most people will let you get away with excuses because most people are hoping you will let them get away with theirs. But it’s hard to make excuses for yourself when you have a definite goal in mind and it is only you who is there to validate the excuses. Through Southwestern Advantage I’ve learned to set goals, and not stress when plans go awry. Life is full of amazing surprises that you may miss if you try to do everything as “planned”. The best decisions I’ve made were ones I never planned on, such as selling books. In selling books you don’t always get exactly what you expect, but if you try your best sometimes you get exactly what you need!