Issuu on Google+

Money

Inside Money

GET A QUOTE:

Money

Cars Inside Money

GET A Enter symbol(s) or Keywords QUOTE:

Enter symbol(s) or Keywords

College students learn from job of hard     learn from job of hard College students knocks knocks Updated 7/21/2006 12:49 PM ET

E-mail |

By Kathy Chu, USA TODAY

Updated 7/21/2006 12:49 PM ET

E-mail | Print |

By Kathy Chu, USA

Long before Ken Starr took on President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater case, he served a less visible — but arguably ju TODAY stressful — role.

It was the summer of '66. Starr, a college student, was trekk Long before Ken Starr took on President Bill Clinton in the door to door in the Cincinnati suburbs. He sold Bibles. Whitewater case, he served a less visible — but arguably just as Each morning, to psych himself up for the 12-hour day ahea stressful — role.

he looked in the mirror and said aloud, three times, the man drilled into him during training: "I feel healthy. I feel happy. I '66.terrific" Starr, a college was trekking — even when hestudent, didn't feel happy or terrific.

It was the summer of door to door in the Cincinnati suburbs. He sold Bibles.

"Luckily, I was healthy during the summer," says Starr, now dean of Pepperdine University's law school.

Each morning, to psych himself up for the 12-hour day ahead, The company Starr sold books for, Southwestern, is still aro he looked in the mirror and said aloud, three times, the mantra (though its main product is now educational study guides). A drilled into him during training: feel healthy. I feel happy. I feel so, each "I summer, are the college students. terrific" — even when heSouthwestern didn't feelishappy or terrific. among a bevy of companies that court stud

for sales positions. Each summer — and sometimes into the

Enlarge

"Luckily, I was healthy during summer," year — the a college-age armysays nearlyStarr, 150,000now strong spills out By Michael A. Schwarz, USA across the nation hawking wares for such companies as TODAY dean of Pepperdine University's law school.

Southwestern, Mary Kay, Avon and Cutco Cutlery. Some go door to door. Many others set up appointments or hold "pro sold parties" bookstofor, Southwestern, is still around reach customers.

Caitlyn Fogerty, 21, jogs from door to door to keep up her momentum and adrenaline while selling books. Here, she tries her luck in Mountain Brook, Ala.

The company Starr (though its main product For is now educational study guides). And the companies, the students provide a windfall. They so, each summer, are the college students. operate as independent contractors, not employees. They p

for all their own gas, food and lodging. They get no automat

BLOGS

health benefits. And they'll dothat what court many others won't: work Southwestern is among a bevy of companies students to 80 hours a week, usually with no guarantee of pay. for sales positions. Each summer — and sometimes into the Generation Next: Yeah, we're broke. See what else we're up "Young entrepreneurial have a lot of energy," whic year — a college-age army nearly 150,000students strong spills out to.USA By Michael A. Schwarz, why these jobs can be a good fit, says Joseph Mariano of tr Enlarge across the nation hawking wares such companies as TODAY group Direct for Selling Association. Southwestern, Mary Kay, Avon and Cutco Cutlery. Some go Caitlyn Fogerty, 21, jogs from door to door to keep up Small Business Connection: What's the others Notset incidentally, college studentsorare often"product broke, or close t door to door. Many up appointments hold worst job you ever had, and it did help you in her momentum and adrenaline while selling books. The potential to earn an average 40% to 50% of a product's Here, she tries her luck in Mountain Brook, Ala. business? parties" to reach customers. price can outweigh the appeal of a minimum-wage job at th college bookstore or of a summer internship at a law firm.

BLOGS Generation Next: Yeah, we're broke. See what else we're up to.

For the companies, the students provide a windfall. They Door-to-door sales caught on in the USA in the early 20th operate as independent not employees. They paymembe century. The practice has waned in recent decadescontractors, amid a decline in households with a stay-at-home evolving state sales and rising about and privacy. Yet technology to erase the traveling forrules all their ownconcerns gas, food lodging. Theyhas getyetno automatic salesperson's stealth weapon: persuasion. "They can make you feel uncomfortable about saying no up or good a health benefits. And they'll do what many others won't: work saying yes," says Walter Friedman, a Harvard historian who wrote Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation o to"These 80 hours week, Selling in America. are theathings adsusually can't do." with no guarantee of pay.

How safe are these door-to-door positions for college students? The industry doesn't keep track of any related "Young entrepreneurial students have a lot of energy," which is crime figures. But direct sales — especially door-to-door knocking — carry the risks involved in selling to stran in their homes. why these jobs can be a good fit, says Joseph Mariano of trade

group Direct Selling Association.

Power of persuasion

Caitlyn Fogerty, 21, is one of about 3,000 college-age students selling Southwestern books this summer. It's a

Small Business Connection: What's the Not incidentally, college students are often broke, or close to it. http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-07-19-college-work-usat_x.htm worst job you ever had, and it did help you in The potential to earn an average 40% to 50% of a product's business?

price can outweigh the appeal of a minimum-wage job at the college bookstore or of a summer internship at a law firm.

Door-to-door sales caught on in the USA in the early 20th century. The practice has waned in recent decades amid a decline in households with a stay-at-home member,


price can outweigh the appeal of a minimum-wage job at the college bookstore or of a summer internship at a law firm. Door-to-door sales caught on in the USA in the early 20th century. The practice has waned in recent decades amid a decline in households with a stay-at-home member, evolving state sales rules and rising concerns about privacy. Yet technology has yet to erase the traveling     salesperson's stealth weapon: persuasion. "They can make you feel uncomfortable about saying no or good about saying yes," says Walter Friedman, a Harvard historian who wrote Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America. "These are the things ads can't do." How safe are these door-to-door positions for college students? The industry doesn't keep track of any related crime figures. But- direct sales — especially door-to-door knocking — carry the risks involved in selling to strangers USATODAY.com College students learn from job of hard knocks in their homes. Caitlyn Fogerty, 21, is one of about 3,000 college-age students selling Southwestern books this summer. It's a Power of persuasion position she seems born for.

Caitlyn Fogerty, 21, is one of about 3,000 college-age students selling Southwestern books this summer. It's a In the first four weeks of summer, Fogerty, who'll be a senior at Arizona State University in the fall, has earned more than $16,000. That's twice what the average first-year salesperson makes the entire summer. She earned http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-07-19-college-work-usat_x.htm more than $35,000 in gross profits last summer and close to $24,000 her first year. On a muggy 80-something-degree June day, Fogerty brushes a strand of chestnut-brown hair off her glistening forehead. She heaves a 30-pound bag onto her shoulder and jogs toward a house in Mountain Brook, Ala., a wealthy suburb of Birmingham. It's 11:40 a.m., and the early promise of the day — she made a sale at the first door she knocked on, at 7:59 a.m. — is waning. No one's home. Five doors in a row. No answer. No chance to give one of 30 daily demos of educational books that help her pay for college. Fogerty lets out a whooping cry: "It's a great day to be a book woman! I love my job!" As if to convince herself, she nods her head, her pony tail bouncing in rhythm. It's one of many motivating chants Fogerty will repeat during the day. They keep her hopes up as doors are shut and people cut her off without glancing at the books she says will help their kids with math, English and other subjects. She's been awake since 6 a.m. and taken a cold shower before downing a protein-packed breakfast of sausage and biscuits at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. After breakfast, she and her roommates — also Southwestern salespeople — danced around in the parking lot, singing a ditty about bananas. The song and dance is silly, she knows, but that's its point: It reminds her not to take herself too seriously, so she won't be discouraged by the dismissive waves and rejections inevitable in door-to-door sales. Selling door to door brings peculiar challenges. Southwestern salespeople will be chased by dogs and yelled at by angry homeowners. Sometimes the police are called if a town restricts soliciting. But the company, during weeklong training in Nashville before the students scatter across the country, warns them their biggest barrier will be a mental one: overcoming feelings of hopelessness, of self-pity. "What a young person gains from going out and selling books is how to deal with fear of failure," says Jerry Heffel, Southwestern's president. "That holds people back so much in life." The privately held Nashville company has been recruiting college students to sell books door to door since 1868. Starr says his experience selling Bibles in the 1960s "was unlike anything I had ever done, before or since. It really did require you to run a summer-long marathon." Other Southwestern alumni, several in politics, include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove. Blackburn, three decades after selling Southwestern books, occasionally finds herself invoking an adage she learned way back when. "When you're in the political realm, sometimes people will treat you as if you're an inanimate object," she says. "When that happens, you say, 'I just


did require you to run a summer-long marathon." Other Southwestern alumni, several in politics, include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove. Blackburn, three decades after selling Southwestern books, occasionally finds herself invoking an adage she learned way back when. "When you're in the political realm, sometimes people will treat you as if you're an inanimate object," she says. "When that happens, you say, 'I just     got another no out of the way, and the next one might be a great big yes.' " Direct sales evolving Southwestern is one of the few direct-sales companies still doing traditional door-to-door sales as others focus more on selling wares on the Internet, by referral and through product parties. The company says it's done business the same way for more than a century because it works. Its book sales have climbed gradually in the past five years, and made up about 15% of parent company Southwestern/Great American's $248 million total sales last year. The industry no longer keeps separate numbers for traditional door-to-door sales. It lumps them instead in an $18 billion category called "face-to-face selling in the home," which includes product parties and sales by appointment. Overall, in 2004, the latest year figures were available, direct sales were a $30 billion industry, a sliver of retail sales. Southwestern and knife-company Cutco depend almost entirely on college-age students to sell products from house to house. Others, such as Avon and Mary Kay, also rely heavily on students, and have boosted their college-age sales force in recent years. But these days, when the Avon lady — synonymous with door-to-door sales in the '50s and '60s — comes calling, it won't necessarily be at your door. Increasingly, Avon representatives are selling cosmetics through beauty parties, the Internet and in offices, says Vicki Banchak of Avon's Mark brand. In 2003, Avon launched the Mark cosmetics line for young women, and has recruited college students to sell its glimmering eye shadows and high-shine lip glosses. (Avon doesn't release numbers on how many Mark sales representatives it has.) For instance, Jalin Wood — who was crowned Miss Mississippi 2004 while wearing Mark's Pink Crush lip gloss and Hollywood Pink body lotion — throws Mark makeup parties for sororities and puts together Mother's Day gift baskets for fraternities at the University of Mississippi, where she's in graduate school. USATODAY.com - College students learn from job of hard knocks

Cutco representative Natanya Green, who will be a junior this fall at the University of California at Davis, started selling knives to family and friends a year ago. She got referrals from them for other customers. During hour-long sessions, Green, 20, demonstrates the sharpness of her knife sets — which sell for about $60 to $2,350 — by cutting through rope and leather. Green makes appointments with families. Whether or not they buy, http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-07-19-college-work-usat_x.htm she'll ask for seven to 10 referrals. This gives her more credibility and makes her feel safer, too. She avoids making appointments when a female adult won't be home. Southwestern, during its weeklong training in Nashville, covers safety issues, along with how to manage your own business, stay healthy — and stay motivated.

Closer to a 'yes' In Fogerty's third summer with Southwestern, going door to door hasn't gotten much easier. But she's better able to stay motivated. Today, Fogerty jogs over to her gray Volkswagen Jetta and cruises down the tree-lined street, studying the imposing homes in the neighborhood for signs of life: a light, an open door, a child playing in the yard. Her eyes scan the lawns for multicolored playthings — called "MCPs" for short by some Southwestern salespeople. They mean the family has kids. It's a sure sign they'll be getting a visit from Fogerty to demonstrate the educational books. A motivational Southwestern CD plays in the background, reminding her that "the answer is always behind the next door."


always behind the next door." On this June day, Fogerty finishes her sales calls at 9:54 p.m., nearly 14 hours after she began. She's knocked on 81 doors, demonstrated her books to 23 families — short of her 30-demos-per-day goal — and closed seven sales. Her legs are covered in mosquito bites, and her shoulders ache from the weight of her book bag. She's tired but satisfied that her sales improved during "gravy time," those evening hours when working parents come home   agree to look at her products. and sometimes She manages to end the day the way it started: with a sale. Maybe it is her persuasive sales pitch. Her persistence. Or maybe it's the infectious smile of a hard-working college student. "It's really hard to be mean to someone who's smiling and nice," Fogerty says. Posted 7/19/2006 11:56 PM ET Updated 7/21/2006 12:49 PM ET

E-mail | Print |

Newspaper Home Delivery - Subscribe Today Home • News • Travel • Money • Sports • Life • Tech • Weather About USATODAY.com: Site Map | FAQ | Contact Us | Jobs with Us | Terms of Service Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Right | Advertise | Press Room | Developer | Media Lounge | Reprints and Permissions News Your Way:

Mobile News |

Email News |

Add USATODAY.com RSS feeds | Widgets

Twitter |

Partners: USA WEEKEND | Sports Weekly | Education | Space.com | Travel Tips Copyright 2011 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Podcasts |


College Students learn from college of Hard Knocks