Thousands of students choose to spend their summers trying to build their bank accounts by selling various products door-to-door. While some are able to mount a successful summer campaign, others find the promise of big bucks empty.
“A job in sales can be incredibly financially rewarding and allow someone to earn much more as a college student than they would at a more traditional summer with regular market wages,” said Jason Christensen, owner of NorthStar Alarm. “It also can be a life-changing experience that provides real-life business interactions and forces individuals to step outside their comfort zone in talking to people every day that don’t necessarily want to talk to them.”
Students are a great resource of workers for many “door-to-door” companies because they are usually poor and motivated to better their financial position. Students that have experience in sales are heavily sought after, and students that have had experience knocking doors in any capacity are prime candidates — so prime many companies will go to great lengths to sign them on.
“It is very difficult to be able to distinguish between ethical and unethical organizations,” Christensen said. “The recruiters are normally sales experts and can be very persuasive. At the end of the day the only way you can judge an individual’s character is by his actions, and it is the same with a company.”
Things can become very confusing for a student on the hunt for a job: Company A might promise a $3,000 signing bonus, while company B promises a high rate of compensation for every sale; but company C promises the bonus, high compensation, a vacation and a lamp with a genie inside waiting to grant every wish and whim.
Not only does a student need to decide which company to sell for, the student must decide between selling pest control or security systems or Living Scriptures or satellite dishes. The decision goes further than that when a student takes in to account whether the summer internship will pay dividends in the future or if the possibility of earning $30,000 in a summer is worth the risk.
“Whether you plan on being an accountant or a geologist or even a doctor, kids can really hone in their communication skills and that is one of the biggest benefits of the summer sales programs,” said Jess Butikofer, co-owner of Homeshield/Ecoshield Pest Control.
Butikofer said anyone considering knocking doors needs to be honest with themselves and decide if they can bring themselves to approach strangers, if they can keep to a set schedule and push themselves to attain goals that are predetermined.
“If an individual can’t visualize those things in their mind, then they might want to steer away from summer sales,” Butikofer said.
Butikofer gave a warning to anybody considering selling anything to look deep into the company they are considering.
“I think there are some great companies out there that really care about their customers and about their employees,” Butikofer said, “and then there are companies that will do anything they have to in order to lock people into contracts.”
It’s easy for a young adult to become overly excited when hearing about the insane compensation and completely forget to do their homework on a company before signing. According to the Pinnacle Security’s website, nine out of ten sales representatives graduate from college debt free and their average earnings per representative is $31,000.
Many students that hear high dollar amounts go into the sales job thinking they will end the summer and be able to buy a new car or motorcycle and still have money to put in the bank. Many are able to accomplish this, but many end up owing their company money at summer’s end.
“It’s hard going door to door. You need to be with good friends while you do summer sales to enjoy the time while working,” said Ali Mardanlou, a former door-to-door salesman and student at the University of Utah.
Door-to-door sales can be very taxing mentally, but if the constant rejection and long hours can be handled, the summer can yield great success.
“The money is good. I miss out on things back home during the summer, but it gives me an opportunity to make money to support my family and pay for flight school,” said Matt Jameson, a student at Utah Valley University and current door-to-door salesman.
In the end, the decision is based on one’s attitude. If an individual feels they can put in long hours on hot streets and approach people with a relentless attitude, sales might be a good option. If not, it might be a good idea to stick to something more comfortable.
“Sometimes you ask yourself why you go out in the heat and sun; other times you wonder why you ever worked for an hourly wage,” Jameson said.