Kyle is graduating in December 2010 with a finance degree from the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. His interests include working out, playing hockey, golf, and reading. This summer, he completed his fourth internship with Southwestern/Great American.
1. Please tell us about your internship experiences.
I have been interning for Southwestern/Great American for the past 4 summers, ever since my freshman year ended at MSU. It is an international corporation of 21 companies, with areas in financial services, insurance, health foods, consulting, real estate, fundraising,and more. I have worked with their college program,though, which is in sales. I have ran my own business each summer selling educational products such as textbooks, software, and web tutoring. When I say books and software, I mean things like Kaplan SAT/ACT software all the way down to Clifford Reading computer games, math help books to supplement elementary to high school curriculums, and kids books from helping children learn shapes, numbers, colors to books that have science projects for 3rd to 6th graders. The full product line can be seen on www.southwesternathome.com.
I have sold each summer in a different location. The Michigan State students went to the suburbs of St. Louis my first summer, followed by Baltimore, Winston-Salem (North Carolina), and Washington DC. There are about 3,000 students that participate in the program each summer from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. We stay with host families during the summer that are usually alumni of the program or friends of alumni.
After finishing my first summer, I came back to be a student manager, which means that I recruited and trained teams during the school year and led them during the summer. I have had the opportunity to coach kids on the phone, run weekly meetings, organize sales territories, and so much more (see resume). After success with Southwestern’s internship program, you can be placed into one of their 21 companies or use their career placement employees to get hired at an outside company. I plan to continue working with their company this year and be a corporate recruiter, and, after building a sales organization large enough, become a district sales manager with Southwestern. The corporate website is www.southwestern.com where one can see all their companies and get more information on the internship.
My favorite thing about working with Southwestern is seeing the transformation in students that complete the program. They not only learn how to sell a product, but learn a ton about themselves. We work by school districts and essentially go door-to-door during the summer, and it can be a tough job at times. But that is where you see personal growth. Students that I have coached have told me that this is not a job, it is a life-changing experience. It’s not just about selling books. It’s about learning success principles, how to set high goals and hit them, and how to work through your emotions. These are skills that students will use the rest of their lives. When I returned from St. Louis after my first summer, my mother said it seemed like I grew up 5 years from the experience. Southwestern’s mission statement is “We build people,' and that is one reason I love the company. There are countless other perks, such as reward vacations, tight knit friendships, career options, and the chance to earn a great income.
My least favorite part of the job is the hours we put in over the summer. Successful students work Monday through Saturday, from 8am to 9:30pm for 12 weeks straight. It’s your own business so you can work however much you want, but if you take the job seriously you work the schedule. I mean you’re living with a host family in a school district that you have never been to before, why not work as hard as possible if you are already there? We live and breathe sales during our summers, and some call us Southwestern students crazy. However, I earn enough money during the summer so that I do not have to work throughout the school year! The average pay for a first year intern is $8,200 based on 12 week summer.
2. How did you find your internship?
I was called by a corporate recruiter to attend an informational meeting on campus. After listening to it, I got an interview and was hired for the job.
3. What is the most important advice you would give to fellow interns/students?
The most important advice I would give students is to consider a sales internship during your college career. No matter what you go into, you are either selling a product, service, idea, or yourself. The sales and communication skills that you can learn in this type of job are so transferable. We work with students in pre-med, law, and even engineers for that reason. Most engineers have told me that being able to combine these business skills with their technical knowledge of engineering makes them very marketable after college since engineers with business experience are rare. Plus, if you can put quantifiable sales results down on your resume, employers will be impressed. They will see that you are a producer and can step into business day one and bring in revenue.
4. What’s your ultimate career goal?
My ultimate career goal is to be a District Sales Manager for Southwestern. If that does not work out, I will likely use the skills I have learned in Southwestern to do personal financial advising.
Thanks Kyle for your great info! Readers – would you like to be featured in Eye of the Intern? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know and we’ll follow up. Thanks!