Summer sales

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Josh Wartena, Opinions Editor, [email protected]



Guys, especially returned LDS missionaries, every semester you’ll see booths, flyers, and signs for “summer selling jobs.” These tables line the hall of flags, enticing you with tales of $100,000 a summer for soliciting people for pest control, alarm systems or satellite TV. It sounds great: enough money for the year in just a summer.


I urge you to avoid them.


Back in January, I had just gone through another breakup. I was sick of my copy center job, and I really wanted to get out of a rut. My dad called and said he met a guy I should talk to. We’ll call him Dave.


Dave was a manager with a satellite TV company, and he wanted me to sell with him that summer. I had already said no to everyone else, knowing it wasn’t for me. But Dave was an honest guy; he showed me numbers and I thought I could do it.


Fast forward to May. I packed up everything I owned and took off to Missouri. I was there one day and knew this experience was not for me. I turned around the next day and drove the 20 hours back home. One of my best friends is selling pest control in Arizona. He’s sticking it out longer than I did and has made $500 in a month, not exactly the 10 grand he expected.


What I’m getting at is selling anything door to door is laughably mind-numbing and requires a certain personality. You know who the sellers are: easily identified by wide-brimmed baseball caps with the sticker still on. They have a boisterous personality and don’t mind bending the truth or tweaking the facts to get their way. Talking to them, you wonder if they ever sound like a real person.


I don’t mean to offend anyone, but well, here goes.


Generally, successful selling requires someone who can perform a mindless task a thousand times over with a dubious moral compass and a propensity for omitting truth. Obviously, there are exceptions, but I’ve met a lot of sellers, and most of the good ones are really thick guys.


These companies hire hundreds of sellers, and most come back within a few weeks. Ask the booth boy how many people signed up and how many finished the summer last year. I guarantee they won’t tell you.


Lest you think I’m just bitter about my experience, let me finish.


Dave is really a nice, honest guy. He was a great manager, cared about his employees and tried to make sure everyone was doing well and staying motivated. He has a nice family, and I respect and like him. The company’s top seller is the same way. A buddy at Vivint and his boss are also pretty good people. I’m not talking about the managers who make this a career or the five-year top veterans. I’m talking about those thinking summer selling is an easy way to get rich.


There is no honest get-rich-quick plan.


Stay home and work or leave and get a job doing something you love. I came home with no job prospects and moved back into my parents’ house. Sometimes you have to start over to figure out where you’re heading; but get moving.


Take a chance and figure out what you love. Head to Alaska and work on a fishing boat, take a summer and work in France, go farm, build, whatever. Just go work hard doing something you enjoy.


I enjoy looking stuff up and writing about it. I’m now working full time writing articles and product reviews for a marketing company. I love it. I’m engaged to my best friend, the most amazing girl I know. I love her. I realize the direction I need to take with my life. I love that feeling.


I’m not going to make a gazillion dollars this summer, and I’ll have to work a part-time job during the semester.


This is hard, but life isn’t easy. Sometimes it really sucks, like when you’re sliding down the Colorado-Utah mountain pass in a snowstorm, living on a credit card, with no job and going to stay in your parents’ house. I get it.


Don’t kid yourself or look for the shortcut out, because you’ll just end up lost.


Let’s put on our big boy pants and enjoy the ride before it runs us over.