While many first-year students left the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the end of last year to return home for the summer, James Eno left for his internship with Southwestern Advantage in Olean, New York. For Eno, this opportunity set him up for success with social, hard work and persistence skills — three qualities he was hoping to get out of a summer internship.
Southwestern Advantage was founded in 1855 and offers a communications and business leadership internship program that teaches college students success principles through consultative sales. Every summer, college interns travel to a new city where they sell educational books, apps and websites door to door.
“We see about 30 families a day so it’s a lot of working all day long, close to 12-14 hours a day for a total of 80 hours a week,” Eno, a sophomore biochemistry major, said. “It’s a lot of rejection that we face throughout the day but that is something that builds a lot of character and can help me achieve skills like communication, hard work, business skills and self-talk that I will need to be successful in my future career.”
The amount one makes over the summer varies based on the individual intern, but one of the perks of the program is the potential for high income. Some students make $7,000 to $13,000 in a single summer. However, there is no guarantee on how much one will make, as it depends on their individual sales techniques, which can result in some making very little or no money at all.
Eno made $13,456.39 last summer and gained the title of the top first-year at UNL as well as ranked 17th in the world out of more than 950 first-year students.
Danny Gamboa, an associate sales leader at Southwestern Advantage and a UNL alumnus, helped recruit Eno and acted as his mentor throughout the summer. According to Gamboa, the people who are able to excel are those who are self-motivated, disciplined and hardworking — all of which helped James do well in the program.
“[James] understood that this was something totally out of his environment, and he had to learn how to just humble himself enough to just take coaching all summer,” Gamboa said. “Not only was he coachable at the beginning of the summer, but he remained coachable all summer long, so I think that combined with his attitude and work ethic helped him do really well.”
Even though Eno is not going into a sales field, he credits this internship to giving him valuable life skills that will help him in his future career in the medical field.
“It was neat for me to realize for me, as I want to become a doctor, how sales could be so integral into that because it affects the way you communicate with patients,” he said. “Being able to understand people and really be able to effectively communicate is something that I wanted to improve upon because, in the pre-med track, they teach you a lot about organic chemistry and stereoisomers but they don’t really teach you how to talk to people.”
Eno said he plans to intern again this coming summer and for the rest of his summers in college in order to continue sharpening his communication skills that will benefit him throughout his life.
“What really gave me confidence in the program is how it was going to set me apart from my peers,” he said. “I’m learning principles that are going to help me during college, after college, all the way until I have kids and so on.”