Class of 2005
As I am sitting in my car, parked on the side of the road, watching my tears fall drop-for-drop with the rain pelting my car outside I ask myself, How did I get here? Immediately my thoughts rewind two months and I am sitting in an interview for a seemingly impossible summer job. As one of the three thousand students selected, out of the thirty thousand interviewed, by the Southwestern Company, the job description was grueling in its simple explanation: run your own business as an independent contractor selling educational books to families home-to-home for an entire summer. In order to be successful, I would have to work seventy hours each week in order to do well; the most successful people in the company worked more than eighty hours each week.
Why would I ever want to do this job? The interviewer laid out the benefits for me: communication skills (talk to three-thousand families across a broad economic spectrum); personal growth (learn and apply success principles for the rest of your life); resume (be able to document your work ethic); travel (be relocated to a different state for the entire summer); and the clincher, money (average student in his or her first summer makes eight thousand dollars). Sitting in my car, my communication skills amounted to this conversation in my head. Unable to recall any of the endless success principles I had heard in sales school a few weeks ago, my work ethic consisted of sitting in a parked car crying. To make matters worse, I had made forty dollars in the last thirty nine hours of work, and I was three states and a million miles away from home.
Looking at the clock, which reads 12:30 , I realize that according to my schedule, I have another nine hours of work today. I do not want to quit, but I am not sure if I can bear this – the constant rejection, the weird looks, the dogs chasing me – the rest of the day, let alone the rest of the week or summer. Sure, I had a few sales over the past couple of weeks. There was even a family that fed me dinner and a high schooler that told me my books would help him go to college. Nonetheless, the ninety percent rejection rate overshadowed those isolated moments of success and I was at a pivotal moment in the summer.
My first option was to go home, an option that one of my two roommates for the summer had already taken. My other option was to keep going, even if this seemed to ensure unbearable struggle, rejection, and misery for ten more weeks. Two thoughts kept me going at this crucial point and for the rest of the summer. The first thought was my commitment to my manager and myself: Do not trade what you want most for what you want now . The second thought was the life of my personal hero, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln failed in business, politics, and his personal life countless times. However, he always had the courage to press on, to try once again, and to overcome obstacles. It was his failures that gave Lincoln the strength of character to lead and unite a nation in its darkest days. Sitting in that car my problems seemed pretty trivial. So I wiped my eyes, opened my car door, and went to the next house. I did not have any sales the rest of the day, and the week as a whole would be the worst week of my summer in terms of profit, but, in the end, none of that mattered. I had ten more weeks to make sales, and that day – that week – was about my character, my work ethic, and my commitment.
When all was said and done, the summer ended up better than I could have expected. I reaped all of the benefits Mr. Roach had explained to me in my interview about the summer program. I even finished as the top first year salesperson in North America that summer, making over twenty-eight thousand dollars in a twelve week period. I continued to work with the Southwestern Company for three years, eventually becoming an organizational leader: the highest in-school position possible. Working with the Southwestern Company was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done up to this point in my life. It is from this experience I have developed the strength of character, work ethic, and personal commitment to fulfill the challenging tasks and mission of law school and a successful legal career.