Christie Bradley – Auburn University
My first summer experience the Southwestern Advantage internship program is somewhat of a blur as far as individual stories go now that I am approaching summer number three. It all seemed to go by so fast when the end of the summer approached, but from day-to-day I thought it would never end. However, there are some things I learned my first summer that I carried into my everyday life and it is what keeps me coming back every year.
Let me take you back to the beginning and how it all started.
I was a junior in college and the VP of Advertising and Promotion for the Marketing Association at Auburn University, and I was very confident in my work experience and resume (this is before I saw a Southwestern resume.) I first met Aaron Schafer for coffee to set up a day for him to talk to the Marketing Association in January. At the time, my plans for the summer were very set on studying abroad, which changed very quickly when I couldn’t come up with $10,000.
So here I was, a “lead server” at an Italian restaurant, and a little overconfident in my abilities to bring food to a table (because you grow so much as a person when you are the best server in a restaurant right?) I was also now free for the summer. When Aaron came to speak to our club, I was very intrigued. My mind set when I signed up to interview to sell books door-to-door was more of “practicing for real interviews.” I said it was never something I would do for real.
Fast forward to May. The day after finals I left for sales school in Nashville. I was one of three people selected from Auburn, but I didn’t know the other two. I arrived in Nashville with a bunch of Michigan kids and I didn’t know anyone. As soon as I walked into the parking lot, a tall skinny guy with a green bag of books asked me if I wanted to “approach” him and practice. I had no confidence in my ability at that point to sell anything. The only thing I had confidence in was my ability to out work anyone.
I came to the bookfield with a strong work ethic instilled by a series of jobs and paying for my own college, but I left with a strong belief in what I was doing and made enough money to pay for my tuition out of pocket the next year. Aaron told me that if I could work hard through challenges all summer and never give up, I would reach my goals. I always remembered that when I got frustrated and thought about quitting. I not only made a promise to him at the beginning of the summer and the other kids in my organization, but I had made a promise to myself to finish what I had started. I made a decision that I would finish and do well in advance; that made all the difference in my success.
I had days just like all of the stories first year interns are warned about prior to the summer. For some reason rain only seems to come right after 10 no’s in a row! Those are the days at 5 o’clock when you feel completely defeated, but I always remembered the promise I made to myself. In the moments that you feel the worst-money and competition aren’t as motivating anymore; however, integrity will always help you knock on the next door. There will always be moms out there that treat you like their own, pack you a dinner for the road or buy simply because they like you. These are the moments that keep me coming back each year.
If I can offer any words of encouragement to a first year intern or someone debating on selling books, it would be this…
Work hard and never give up. This was the best advice I was given. “Those who work the hardest—win.”