The hardest job you’ll ever do?

It’s my theory that most people only develop a very strong work ethic if they have done something truly difficult at an early stage in their lives.

It could be sport. My friend Robin ran for his school and college. Palmer played basketball for school and college. Both of these guys are incredibly motivated – and their motivation for sport transferred to their careers.

It could be hard manual work. I spent my teenage years working on farms and building sites (mostly against my will, I have to confess), but the ability to work hard transferred. In fact, I was desperate for a desk job – because I saw how hard “real” work was.

When I worked at Goldman Sachs, I occasionally interviewed candidates who had interned with Southwestern, http://www.southwesternadvantage.com/. Southwestern was founded in 1868 to help students finance their college expenses by selling educational books. Southwestern ex-interns often got hired by Goldman Sachs, because we were shocked and awed by the difficulty of what they had accomplished during their summer internships.

Trained for a week in Nashville, TN (Southwestern is also in the UK now), they are then sent off to some middle-income town somewhere in America (or England) where they attempt to sell educational books to families, and where they:

  • Work 12-hour days
  • Work for 6 days a week for 12 weeks
  • Cold-call by knocking on around 100+ doors, securing perhaps 20 “sit-downs”, every single day

Would you hire someone willing to endure that much rejection, to persist to follow up with leads, and to remain motivated for 12 weeks during such torture??

Well we would, and we did.

If you want to transform yourself utterly from the person you are now into a go-getter who believes anything is possible, then maybe you should consider interning with Southwestern.

(By the way, other than encouraging my own kids to consider Southwestern, I have zero affiliation of any kind with the company and never have had.)

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Peter is a true careers expert, and a leading authority on getting hired. He has worked for some of the world’s most prestigious employers including Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Deloitte. At Harrison Careers, he runs an elite team with a 15+ year track-record of helping clients to win thousands of job offers from the world’s leading companies in Technology, Finance, Banking, Consulting, Accounting, Law and other industries. When he’s not coaching clients, he’s giving presentations, running, biking, or hanging out with his 5 teenage kids.

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