Extracurricular Education: How to Develop Selling Skills Outside the Classroom

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service. “ – Brian Tracy


If you are considering a career in business, marketing, innovation, design, product development or entrepreneurship, understanding the principles of selling is key to your success. 


As a college student, you will eventually encounter the topic of selling – especially if you are majoring in communication, finance, public relations, social science, liberal arts, economics or any number of other fields which are concerned with the interaction of people and money. Most majors, however, do not provide students with hands-on, real-world, person-to-person selling experience. The only way to gather actual selling experience at the collegiate level is through an internship with a commerce-oriented, sales-driven company. 


College Works Painting (CWP) is one such organization, and for nearly 30 years CWP has been teaching the principles of selling to university-level students. A management internship can allow you to gain real-world experience and build business skills that put you miles ahead of your peers. As a College Works alumni, you can graduate from college and enter the workforce as a highly valuable asset to any company looking for qualified recruits.   

A Life-changing Opportunity

The College Works Internship program trains participants to utilize a proven, time-tested, turnkey system to build their own residential house painting business in their spare time. The business model includes selling at its purest form – researching valid candidates, contacting them yourself, pitching them your service, walking them through a sales pitch and closing the deal. Once the contract for your services is in place, you subcontract the work to a crew (which you will hire) and then you repeat the process again and again. The CWP model is so effective because, as an intern, you will have access to guidance, assistance and expertise from managers who have already successfully worked the business model. Aside from learning invaluable business skills while still in school, you can also earn enough money to pay off student loans so that you graduate from college debt-free. (Tyler, insert backlink to Earn Money for Tuition blog here)

College Works Internship Sales Skills

As a College Works intern, you will participate in every phase of the selling process. The hands-on, real-world aspect of the CWP business model allows participants to learn the art and science of selling by doing, rather than by reading about it in a textbook. Your experience will include the seven steps of the selling process. This is a framework that has been in place in the business world for many years, and while it changes in small ways from one industry to the next, its effectiveness explains its longevity:


Prospecting and qualifying – Viable candidates for a professional house painting service are identified by you – the entrepreneur — by researching homes and homeowners throughout the adjacent communities. 

Preparation / Pre-approach –  You will determine your opening sales pitch via script, practice so that it sounds natural, and make sure you have all necessary sales material on hand for when a prospect starts asking specific questions. Also, it is important to have specific information about the client on hand (without sounding intrusive) such as current color of the house, type of trim, style of construction, etc.

Approach – You will introduce yourself to prospects in person, explain the purpose of your visit and begin to establish rapport. After asking a few easy introductory questions, you will do the all-important sales technique of LISTENING to the potential customer so that you can determine if a presentation is warranted. 

Presentation – Here you will present a solution to a prospect’s problem. You will explain, in detail, the aesthetic and monetary advantages of a professional house painting job. Since you asked them preliminary questions and listened closely to their answers, you can tailor the presentation to fit their specific needs whether they are looking to sell, refinance or upgrade the visual appeal of their home. 

Overcome objections – Most potential customers will raise objections as a natural part of the sales process. You will acknowledge their viewpoints and offer solutions while asking more questions in order to further understand their needs. 

Close the sale – You will simply ask the customer if they are ready to make a commitment and purchase your services. Once all terms are agreed with, the work contract is made official, and it is time to get to work.         

Follow up – Once you complete the work, it is important to make sure the customer is satisfied. Once you are assured that their expectations have been met, you can ask for a review of the service and for referrals of family and friends who can benefit from your service. 

Essential Principles of Selling

The subject of selling is of extraordinary interest to countless people. The topic has been studied, dissected, perfected, reinvented, tried and tested many times over. Among these efforts, there have emerged approaches and philosophies which, after reliably generating success, have become essential components in the canon of sales techniques. During your College Works internship, you will be presented with opportunities to put these ideas to work for you and experience the results first hand. Selling is both an art and a science, and each person involved in this time-honored business tradition must find the tools that work for them and develop their own unique style of selling through hands-on application.    


Ask and Listen

Sales experts the world over agree that in order to be successful, you have to listen more than you talk. It is of crucial importance that you actively listen to what your prospect has to say – somewhere in a 60% to 40% listen/talk ratio – so that you can understand their needs and respond accordingly with solutions. Ask important questions relative to their needs and your service and then give them your undivided attention. 


Sell Yourself

It is important to have confidence in your company and your product, so as a College Works intern you can use company metrics and success data to bolster your poise. Conversely, it is crucial that you balance this modality with an ample sense of humility. Avoid bluster and bravado while making sure you are not too meek and unassuming. You have to find that fine line, which is to essentially apply your own personality in a professional, respectful manner.  


Engage with Individuals

Each prospect is unique, and folks living next door to one another can vary drastically in personality style and how they respond to your sales pitch. As you utilize the “ask and listen” principle, you can begin to understand the specific needs of each individual client and respond with fine-tuned solutions. 


Link Features to Benefits

The various aspects of your College Works Painting business will include services such as removal of loose paint, caulking of exterior trim, painting of primary surfaces, etc. It is important that you point out the benefits of each service such as enhanced surface appearance, protection from water damage and beautification of the property as a whole – respectively. The advantages of each service may seem obvious to you, but unless you take time to point it out to your sales prospect, they may not make the conscious decision to take action based on the benefits.   


Sell the Results

Based on the “ask and listen” principle, you can create an image of what the finalized house painting project will look like. You can then describe this ideal end result to your client to help them visualize a picture that aligns with their fundamental reason for hiring your service.  


Emotions Drive Sales Conversions (Not Logic)

People rarely make buying decisions based on reason. According to Harvard Business School, “95% of our purchase decision making takes place subconsciously.” While facts and figures can bolster confidence in your sales pitch, the way your products and services will enhance the customer’s life and experience in the short and long term are what drive conversions. Once you can get a prospect emotionally engaged in the outcome of their decision to buy, you are on the way to closing a deal.   


Focus on Solutions

It is important to address a customer’s concerns, but it is equally important that you not linger on these areas. In order to move the sale along, you must shift the conversation to solving these problems and how you can help. These solutions are best presented in person, so that the client can appreciate, firsthand, that you have considered their concerns and have taken the time to show them ways to resolve these issues.   


Be Professional

While developing rapport and camaraderie with customers is key, it is also crucial that you don’t get too comfortable and that you maintain a professional demeanor. Getting people to like you is not as important as if they value and respect you. If you earn a client’s trust with a professional sales presentation and service, it is best kept by maintaining that formal demeanor.  


Develop Yourself

As a newcomer to the world of business and sales, some of these principles will come easily while others will not. No one becomes an expert in sales overnight. These skills must be developed over time through hands-on experience. One of the great advantages of College Works is that you are getting a massive head start by learning how to apply selling principles and techniques while you are still in school.  


Sell Value not Price

A sales pitch based on numbers alone will fall flat almost every time. Your presentation of your products and services as well as your own confidence in your business should be at the focal point from step one. Once you have listened to a prospect’s concerns and presented them with a personally-tailored set of solutions, they should be able to easily understand why your services are prices as they are.  


Know Your Stuff

As a college student, you most certainly understand the importance of doing your homework. As a College Works intern, you will encounter clients who want to test your knowledge and understanding. You will also meet folks who need as much reassurance as possible before they take action. In order to get this, they will ask you every question imaginable about your services. The College Works business model is unique, as you have access to experience managers who can help you answer questions from an overly analytical client.    


Be Unique

While it is crucial that you maintain a professional demeanor, it is also of utmost importance that you are not fake or that you do not speak like a robot. Your personality is what will ultimately sell most clients on your service, so don’t hide it when asking them questions, listening to their concerns and presenting them with solutions. 

How A College Works Internship Can Enhance Your Major

The business skills you can acquire as a College Works intern, specifically your knowledge of sales and selling, can complement your studies and help launch your career in your chosen field. 

While a CWP internship is separate from your college or university, you can consider it an auxiliary education – a genuine, introductory excursion into the world of commerce. 


Communications – This field is largely focused on advertising and mass media. These are forms of selling which utilize many of the fundamental principles outlined above. A comprehensive understanding of sales – which you could gain as a College Works intern – would make you a valuable asset in this industry.     


Finance – The financial services sector handles nearly all aspects of money for individuals and corporations. The “ask and listen” as well as the trust-earning aspect of sales are crucial in order to convince others that you are qualified to handle their money. Thorough knowledge of selling psychology and the emotional ties people have to their money can be an invaluable part of your skill set in this industry. 


Marketing – Similar to the Communications field, this industry is synonymous with selling. While much of the messaging is delivered through multi-media outlets and digital platforms, the one-on-one skills a College Works internship helps develop can offer incredible insight into the true reasons why people take action and make buying decisions. 


Business – Majors in this field study just about every aspect of the financial world including marketing, project management, finance, economics, accounting, international relations and more. Your sales experience from College Works Painting as well as the rest of the business skills you will learn in your internship will perfectly compliment your studies in this field. 


Public Relations – A degree in PR can lead you into an industry where you work to magnify the attributes, benefits or advantages of people, places and things. Just like explaining the benefits of a product or service during a sales pitch, you will do so utilizing industry tools such as news releases, speeches, internal communications and more. A foundation in sales built during a College Works internship can help position you for a great career in this field. 


Social Science – A career in this field can integrate the psychological aspects of selling into your large-scale studies of society and human behavior. Hands-on experience in selling through a College Works internship can give you vital insight into the human psyche and the subconscious factors which influence most buying decisions. This can be applied to interpersonal situations as well as seasonal, quarterly and global financial trends.   


Liberal Arts – A degree in this field could lead you into a career as an artist, actor, writer or otherwise independent, creative entrepreneur. All of these areas involve the principle of “selling yourself.” Previous experience in sales will give you a distinct advantage in markets which are saturated with artists who understand nothing of the principles of selling.   


Economics – This field focuses on the science of money and the analysis of buying incentives and how marketplace fluctuation reacts to human interaction. Intrinsic knowledge of the psychology of sales – gathered through a CWP internship – can provide you with a working model of the theories you will learn in the classroom as you pursue your degree.

Sales are a major part of many areas of study and their subsequent careers. College Works is an auxiliary learning experience which can teach students vital, essential, crucial business skills which are simply not offered in most university classrooms. An internship can place a young professional at the top tier of the labor pool once they enter the workforce after college. Contact us to learn more about an invaluable way to learn about the many facets of sales and selling. 

Higher Education You Can’t Get in a Classroom: How College Works Teaches Business Management and Leadership Skills 

The best way to gain the specific skills which can help you succeed in business is through real-world experience. As a college student, you are learning the fundamentals of accounting, marketing, general business principles and the like. Yet, most of that information is only useful when applied to actual situations wherein services are exchanged for money. 

As you work your way through your undergraduate studies, consider starting your own business within a reputable, time-proven, highly successful company. Pursuing an “auxiliary education” can provide you with the practical skills gained from hands-on experience which will allow you to excel in the fast-paced, competitive world of business.


College Works has developed a widespread professional network which uses a turnkey business model to teach participants about leadership skills, business ethics, communication skills, organizational management and sales principles which cannot be imparted in a traditional classroom setting. The mechanics of these business fundamentals can be applied to any profession while giving young people an edge over their peers when they are ready to leave the university and enter the highly-competitive world of business. 

Lead the Way 

One of the main characteristics of an effective leader is the ability to motivate others to take action. Managing a business which involves a team of workers is an excellent way to take the principles of leadership into the field and learn how you can make them work for you. A College Works internship provides an opportunity to learn the highly sought-after fundamentals of leadership and how to apply it in the real world. 

Inspire Action

True leaders motivate others to take action, whether it is on their own behalf or for the greater goodwill of an organization. Your painting business will provide the set and setting to see this phenomenon in action — which starts with your initial call to action at the onset of every project or workday. 

Learn Honesty and Integrity

Running a business, especially a house painting enterprise with multiple parties involved requires transparency. You will learn to begin every professional relationship with full disclosure of all details pertinent to each individual and to maintain the integrity of your communication by giving the same information about bids, timelines and such to all concerned parties. This is a rare and valuable asset in the business world and gaining experience in College Works on how to “shoot straight” can serve you well beyond the classroom. 

Practice Strategy

As you take on jobs during your internship, your managerial role will require that you see the big picture on each account and where it fits into your workflow. Being able to step back from the nuts and bolts of business and see where the current trajectory is taking you is a major part of learning to be a leader.  

Curate Communication Skills

Effective communication between all aspects and levels of a business is key to success. As a College Works manager intern, you will quickly learn that being as specific as possible and repeating exact facts, timelines, numbers, and expectations to workers and clients can and will save lots and lots of headaches, backtracking and wasted time and energy. 

Lead by Example

As a manager, circumstances will arise that require immediate, decisive action in order to be resolved. This opportunity will offer plenty of instances where someone needs to make a plan, delegate responsibilities, and get the ball rolling by rolling up their sleeves and getting into the work. This part of leadership ties into the motivational aspect yet is defined by the fact that it must be applied actively rather than in theory. 

Decide with Clarity

While delegation is an important aspect of leadership, as the manager of your own College Works team, there are some decisions that you alone can make. This is because, as the owner/operator, you have more information about all aspects of every account — unlike anyone else. This part of leadership also involves gathering as much information as possible, which involves listening attentively to what others have to say and adding that intel to your cache of knowledge so that you can make the best decisions possible in any given situation. 

Sound Business Ethics

Successfully conducting commerce — especially over a period of months and/or years — requires a solid understanding of business ethics and why observing them is important. These policies and practices serve as a road map for navigating controversial issues that you will inevitably encounter in the business world. Such concerns include discrimination, bribery, corporate culture, fiduciary responsibility and transparency. How you interact with employees, subcontractors, the government and customers will reflect your business ethics and in turn, will reflect the general perception of you and your company by the community at large. 


It is important that you present a forward-facing professional identity (as a disclaimer on all hiring messages and personnel literature) which states that you do not, in any way, discriminate against race, religion, sex, gender identity, nationality, age, medical history or disability. As a College Works manager working in proximity to an institution of higher learning, you will no doubt encounter a diverse variety of people from every imaginable background. Your internship will help you develop a healthy sense of how to be inclusive in your actions, politically correct in your speech and thorough in your considerations. 

Workplace Accommodation

It is also essential that you state that any and all necessary changes will be made for applicants and employees who need special workplace accommodations for religious or medical reasons, as the law requires. This means, in your painting business as well as future endeavors, you will make any reasonable requested changes to the workplace environment that a person with religious observations asks for or someone with a physical condition needs.  


This business ethic is more of an unstated principle; however, it must be ingrained in your mindset during everyday transactions and interactions that corrupt practices will not be utilized, tolerated or entertained in any way. In your College Works experience, by associating with other entrepreneurs, you will learn to engender a workplace culture wherein others are not influenced unethically, illegally or dishonestly. 

Company Culture

As a College Works business manager, you will learn to implement your business ethics through the sort of company culture you establish. As a leader, you will be able to set the tone and attitude of your company as a whole. This will determine how your employees (subcontractors) react to you as well as your clients. Your association will currently successful managers will help you learn to define and establish company culture, will serve you exponentially in future business ventures. 

Fiduciary Responsibility

The College Works turnkey business model as well as guidance from your extended management team will show you how to properly account for profit and loss (P & L) assets, expenditures and accounts receivable. You will also learn the proper way to file taxes and accurately claim business expenses while taking advantage of any and all tax credits you may qualify for, and as a student working your way through school, there will be plenty. 

Your College Works painting business and your interactions with those who train you will teach you how to be transparent in your dealings with customers, suppliers, investors, partners and employees (subcontractors). This simply means that all your transactions, since they will be legal, upstanding and legitimate, will be available to anyone should evidence of your business practices be requested.  

Communication Skills

A large percentage of the problems that arise during the course of doing business do so because of poor communication. Your College Works Management Internship will demonstrate the importance of being clear, concise, consistent, objective, relevant and understanding when imparting any sort of information — whether it be through verbal or written means — to colleagues, employees, partners, investors, and customers. Clear communication is the cornerstone of successfully conducting business, and you will have many opportunities a day to practice and master this all-important skill. 

Be Clear

It is important to write and speak in simple, easy to understand terms. Although your vocabulary is undoubtedly expanding in your post- high school years, business is best carried out when all parties are crystal clear on what the terms of the current agreement are and exactly what roles each party is expected to play. Throughout your College Works experience, you will learn to conduct business using straight, direct language and to reinforce each transaction by reiterating the original message.

Be Brief

The ability to be thorough yet brief in your communications, whether they are via telephone, email or in person is — in essence — a time management tool. As you apply this skill to your business, you will set a tone with colleagues and clients that tells them you are not interested in getting bogged down in unrelated matters or spending precious time having a casual chit chat. As there is a time and place for everything, your business will flourish when you spend time at work handling work-related matters and saving socializing for another time. 

Be Consistent

Success of your painting business will also rely not only on consistency of service (the end product) but of your work habits and your messaging. You will learn to deliver top notch work, to conduct yourself with professionalism at every turn and to keep the same tone and content in your advertising as well as in your daily work-related discussions.  

Be Objective

The professionalism instilled by the College Works organization will teach you to be fair and impartial when conducting business. This lesson helps avoid the pitfalls of subjectivity — which can cause people to make decisions and judgements based on emotion rather than logic. Being objective helps maintain a rational mind, especially when the inevitable situation arises where there are obstacles to overcome. 

Be Relevant

Staying on-topic when communicating with clients, other managers, colleagues and employees helps maintain the aforementioned qualities of clarity and conciseness. As an intern/manager, you will learn to stick to the matters at hand and to avoid wavering from one subject to another — as such a tendency has been proven time and again to hinder the progress of completing a project, finishing a transaction or closing a sale. 

 Be Understanding

One of the top business ethics in the arena of communication is learning how to be understanding. As a manager of your own painting business, you will encounter situations where a subcontractor or a client has an extenuating circumstance that somehow delays or disrupts a project. You will learn to listen to them attentively until they have explained themselves thoroughly and to express a sufficient, professional level of empathy. Then you can begin to implement solutions in order to get business back on track. 

Organizational Management 

Another key principle you will learn during the course of your College Works internship is how to effectively manage an organization. Your leadership skills will be an important component of this facet of your business, and additionally, you will learn how to implement planning, execution and delegation.


In this phase of managing your internship business, you will learn to utilize schedules and timelines to maximum effect. Here, you will learn to identify and procure project details such as staffing, equipment and materials and you will learn to approximate the necessary time required to complete a project. Through this process, you will develop an understanding of how well-made plans increase the chances of a smooth execution.


In this stage of organizational management, you will reap the fruits of your planning by carrying out the work. Here, every facet of accomplishing the project will be handled including the prep work (taping and cleaning of surfaces), application of all shades and necessary coats of paint and a thorough cleanup of the job site.


Many times, as a project manager, you will find there is more work than one person can accomplish over a reasonable period of time. This is when, in your painting business internship, you will learn to assign certain tasks to people who work for you. Your leadership skills will be fine-tuned here, as you will need to be on-site to lead by example, yet there are other facets of a job that must also be tended to such as quality assurance of the work, follow up with the client and collection of payment.  

Ethical Selling

This part of your College Works manager internship will define how you are perceived personally and professionally and encapsulates leadership, management, understanding, clarity, conciseness, transparency and just about every other principle mentioned above. 

Ethical selling is ensuring that, as you present your services to the community at large, every customer and prospect is treated with honesty, integrity, fairness and respect. As a marketer of your own business, you will learn to be considerate to the experience of others as they interact with you rather than pushing your agenda on them. You will achieve success by making honest claims, not disparaging others and utilizing a “serve don’t sell” approach. 

Be Sincere

When explaining how your painting service can benefit a potential client, it is crucial that you make honest claims. While exaggerating might help close a sale, the proof will be in the end result. If your assertions don’t add up to the visual proof of your work, the customer will probably let you know about it along with everyone else they know including friends, neighbors and family. Instead, if you are forthright with your explanation of how your service can improve the look and curb appeal of their property, they will have reasonable expectations and they just might send you referrals. 

Be Virtuous

As a business offering a popular service, you will no doubt encounter competition in the marketplace. In your College Works internship, you will learn the merits of not talking poorly about your competitors. Many prospects, as a negotiation tool, will test your integrity by asking why they should pick your service over “the other guys.” Rather than disparage another company, you can use the instance as an opportunity to explain why your service stands out and how you are dedicated to quality and excellence. You can also cite glowing testimonials from previous clients of College Works Painting and perhaps highlight what makes your service unique. 

Be Accommodating

Lastly, your internship will give you ample opportunity to test and perfect the “serve don’t sell” approach to business. This method is based on the idea that you are serving people by helping them make informed decisions. This lifts the pressure of ever having to utilize the much antiquated “herd sell” method by prequalifying your prospects, establishing that they are interested in your service, letting them know how you can help them and giving them a bid for the project. 


A life-changing experience in learning business management skills through hands-on application awaits you with College Works. Contact us to learn more about a management internship that can help you pay for school while giving you a razor-sharp edge in business for when you graduate and enter the professional world. 

Financial Support for College Students: The Many Benefits of a Business Management Internship 

“The hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it.” — Bernie Sanders

Funding for tuition is one of the top concerns for college students, especially those looking to avoid student loans. In the search for a solution, many young people achieve solvency through internships which can also offer a host of additional, highly valuable benefits.

The Problem

Student loans are a problematic option for financial aid due to the long-term, high-interest debt most of these financial instruments can carry. While some Federal loans can be reasonably configured with (somewhat) low rates, loans from private lenders can carry up to 15% interest — making them nearly impossible to pay off in a timely manner. This can result in a long-term debt situation that can impede an individual’s success for untold portions of their post-college years.

The Solution

A better way to finance your higher education is to “earn while you learn” and pay for school in real time. With this approach, you can graduate and enter the workforce debt free with real-life work experience which you can apply to any field. Successfully working your way through college, while seemingly a daunting pursuit, is absolutely possible with the right company.

College Works Painting provides a proven system designed specifically for students looking to generate income for tuition while attending university classes. The management intern program teaches participants to earn money working a part-time schedule while allowing the necessary time for attending classes and pursuing studies. The experience has helped thousands of students across the United States not only avoid student loan debt, but to gain an edge in the business world by entering the workforce with hands-on knowledge of how to develop business, manage finances and become financially solvent.

A Legacy of Success

Since 1993, College Works has been teaching students how to successfully operate their own house painting business. By following a turnkey system and working with an experienced support team of managers, participants can earn money for tuition as well as their monthly living expenses. This dynamic allows College Works Painting interns to completely avoid having to take out student loans and incur the difficulties of long-term, high-interest debt.

Within a few months of a College Works internship, many students are earning money and applying it to their tuition. Student interns who may have taken out loans for their initial year or two can quickly pay off those loans before the interest buries them beneath an ever-growing pile of debt.

Executive Conversations

College Works CEO Matt Stewart, in addition to his many duties, is also the host of the acclaimed podcast Edge of Excellence. Here, Stewart interviews highly successful individuals across many fields and professions about their journey to prosperity and their personal philosophies about success. Among his subjects are several former College Works Painting interns/managers who offer unique perspectives into how their experience with the company helped them pay for school and excel in the professional world.

Case Study #1: Sean Nachtigall

Sean Nachtigall was in his second year of engineering studies at California Polytechnic State University when he was approached by a College Works Painting Manager about an internship opportunity. In a recent Edge of Excellence interview, he recounts his experience: “I discovered, in my sophomore year, how to run my own painting business,” he begins. “Before that, I didn’t like sales … but I did it because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. By the end of that year, I had run a $100,000 business. Then, I got promoted the next year and ran a $500,000 business,” he says.

Nachtigall’s experience is an excellent example of how a student with no preexisting business experience or sales skills can quickly plug into a proven system with long-lasting benefits. College Works teaches skills which students can build upon and leverage towards any other career. “Through those experiences,” Sean explains, “I was able to get introduced to [people] in the mechanical engineering fields,” he says. “I helped found the (Cal Poly) Sales Engineering Club and then, I ended up with a company in Wisconsin for six months of training in air conditioning where I basically got a masters in AC.”

Unexpected Benefits

In addition to the financial benefits, Nachtigall acknowledges the value of the many skills he learned through College Works. As an engineering student, he recognizes that developing business acumen has made him a rare asset in a field where the traditional curriculum does not teach business development to students. “There are tons of engineers out there, but there are also tons of people who are good at talking,” he begins. “But, to truly become successful to where you are a highly valuable asset, you need to be able to set yourself apart. If you can combine the gift of gab and the technical background, you are going to do very, very well because not many people can do that,” he says.

Nachtigall goes into further detail about his personal challenges with the prospect of selling. “I was absolutely terrified by the prospect of selling,” he begins. “Looking back on it now, I don’t know what triggered me to say yes. I remember thinking ‘this seems like a really big challenge.’ But I was given examples of other people who had been successful at this challenge, and I thought ‘who says I can’t do it too?’”

Nachtigall also places emphasis on how College Works helped him to understand the true nature of selling compared to what he thought it was. “I had a total misunderstanding of what sales is,” he says. “A successful salesperson is someone who is helping people satisfy a need they have and understanding what it is that is going to make them, the customer, successful. A lot of people, when they get into sales, they struggle with the fact that they are taking money from people. They feel bad about it — that there is a negative connotation to it. However, if a customer comes to you and they have a need and you are able to legitimately satisfy that need, they want you to take their money because that money is a direct representation of the value they associate with the service you are providing for them,” he explains.

Sean recalls how his choice to go the hard route made all the difference. “Engineering [students] are used to hearing ‘you don’t want to be a salesman’ from their family and friends. But I decided, when College Works approached me, that maybe the thing I should be doing is what 95% of the other people were not doing.”

Additional Insights

A subsequent interview with Sean Nachtigall delves deeper into his experience as a College Works intern. Here, he explains what he learned about the management of money and time. “You have to manage your entire P&L (profits and losses) yourself,” he begins. “If you don’t, you won’t make any money.  I have always been good with money, but actually having to budget and watch costs in a business environment was a critical learning experience.” Concerning his day-to-day schedule, he says, “I would write out my schedule for the week in 15-minute blocks. That sort of time management de-stresses you because it pulls the information out of your brain and onto paper. So, the never-ending cycle of everything you have to do flowing through your head is stopped.”

Show Me the Money

Nachtigall recounts how he began making money with College Works fairly quickly, “My first check, I remember, was around $5,000 and I used it to pay off all my credit card debt I had racked up. My profitability was one of the things I was most proud of from my intern year. I was awarded ‘Top Producer’ in my division as I had the highest margin at the end of the year.” he recalls.

Nachtigall looks back on his internship with fond memories and hopes other students who find themselves in his position choose to go for it with College Works. “This is by far the best opportunity to make as much money in college as possible,” he says. “You determine how much you make based on your efforts. It is a risk/reward [scenario]. More important than money you will be paid is the fact that you will gain a full understanding of who you truly are as a person.  You will learn so much about yourself that you will carry with you the rest of your life. It is only through adversity, trials, and challenges that we grow and discover our innermost self. I would say most people never discover who they truly are, but you will if you take on this challenge.”

Sean Nachtigall is currently an Outside Sales Engineer at Vertical Systems, LLC in Santa Fe Springs, CA.

Case Study #2: Alexi Rabadam

Alexi Rabadam was a student at San Francisco State University when she decided it was important to look for a way to separate herself from her peers. In her search for a worthwhile internship, she discovered College Works Painting. In a recent Edge of Excellence podcast with College Works CEO Matt Stewart, she recalls her initial reaction to the program and the long term effect it had on her life and her professional career. “Even though it was hard,” she begins, “It was probably the best experience I’ve had in my entire life. When I was 18, my first job out of high school was in retail. But then, when I met you (Matt) and the other mentors in the College Works program, my ability to be entrepreneurial and to succeed in life skyrocketed” she says.

A Quick Transformation

Rabadam went from working for an hourly wage to being one of the top producers on her College Works Painting team. “The amount of experience I gained, even in the first year, was massive,” she recalls. “In my first year, I ran a $100,000 business! I came back as a manager the next year and learned how to manage other folks. I was with the company for another two years and I really separated myself [from others] by learning how to run a business at such an early age. Learning those skills really set the tone for my professional career,” she explains.

In the aforementioned podcast, Alexi is quick to point out the importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone — especially for college students. “I think that early on, students just need to try everything … things that challenge them and make them uncomfortable.” Even in a state that does not offer College Works specifically, Alexi recommends, “internships where they [students] are going to receive great training, anything that is different and unique from the average college student.” Rabadam was fortunate enough to be in an area where a College Works internship was available at the time. She sums up her outlook on this aspect of internships with a critical observation, explaining, “A college student, in order to do well in any space, needs to be able to think critically.”

The Road Less Travelled

CEO and podcast host Matt Stewart then summarizes what to look for in a college internship with a few “qualification question” making a distinct clarification that an “assistantship” is NOT an internship:

 “Is it harder work than you’ve ever done before, and you don’t think you can do it?”

“Is it totally uncomfortable and out of the  box?”

“Is there regimented, proven training where you know you’re going to go through steps A, B, C and D?”

Stewart then relates a similar story to Rabadam about when he stumbled across a worthwhile internship during his college years, explaining, “We did the things that made us cry, we did the thing that gave us nightmares, we did the thing my dad told me to not do because I was working too hard, we did the thing everybody said was impossible. And when you do the impossible, when you prove everybody wrong, the next thing you know you’re running a media company and throwing hip-hop events in New York City for women launching their careers in music.”

Through her experience at College Works, Rabadam learned the business skills necessary to excel in other fields. She has found a way to turn her passion for music into profit through her NYC-based music PR company Finessed Media. She attests, “The leadership at College Works Painting is absolutely amazing and has helped me become a better leader to the people I manage.”

Case Study #3: Breanna Brady

Breanna Brady was initially considering degrees in medicine and/or law before she was accepted into Stony Brook University. As many students can attest, entering college can be a confusing time, and this was the case with Breanna.

Brady was a high school athlete, primarily concerned with the world of sports. During her initial months of college, she recalls being scared, unsure what to do and overwhelmed with a course-load of pre-med classes. She realized she actually hated her choice of majors but was determined to keep up the appearance that she was on the right path and that she had a plan.

She explains that in an attempt to find her path and her “tribe” she stumbled upon the College Works Painting Internship and decided — since she wasn’t fond of her current trajectory — to go ahead and give it a shot.

Follow Your Instincts

Brady learned early on about the challenges that lay ahead of her. In another recent Edge of Excellence podcast hosted by College Works CEO Matt Stewart, she explains, “I had [found] my internship program. I remember telling my mom that I had found such a cool opportunity. She told me it wasn’t going to work out. I was confused and hurt, but I ended up being one of the top interns in the state. She eventually said ‘Breanna, I am so proud of you that you didn’t take my advice.’”

As a high-achieving athlete in high school, Brady was pre-wired to excel in a competitive environment. When she joined the College Works team, she realized she had found the right people to associate with. “The people you surround yourself with are going to have a huge impact on where you’re going to go and what you’re gonna do,” she explains. “I was surrounded by competitive, driven people. People who wanted to be on a winning team,” she says.

After a few months of learning the ropes, a few hard knocks and a fair amount of trial and error, something clicked with Breanna. She soon became a top producer among her College Works peers, running a six-figure business with increasing earnings every year.

Find Right Path

Podcast host and CEO Matt Stewart provides a succinct summary of Brady’s experience, stating, “You found a way to unleash your potential by continuously surrounding yourself with people who are [also] looking for a way to unleash their potential” he explains.


“Fast forward a few years later — I finished the internship program, and I have my job now all laid out,” Brady explains. “I didn’t finish the Pre-med track. I switched my major, I switched what I thought it was I wanted and here I am. There have been a lot of changes in the last few years to say the least.”

Brady explains how the skills she learned during her time with College Works have served her well in her professional career, citing her flexibility to smoothly transition from one field to another. “I did my internship, and it was sales based and I loved it. But it doesn’t mean that just because you found something you are good at, there isn’t more out there you might be good at as well, she says. “I think the internship gave me a really good understanding of what it is I am good at and what I am not good at — but that didn’t stop me from trying to find things I might like even more.” She explains further, “There are a ton of things I learned during my internship that I didn’t know I would need. But now I’m in a new position and I’m Like, ‘wow, this is all coming together.’”

Currently, Breanna Brady is a Staffing Consultant at Cornerstone Staffing Solutions, Inc. in Pleasanton, CA.

Take the Next Step

If you are looking for a way to earn money for tuition while avoiding high-interest loans, internships with College Works Painting offer an ideal solution. Contact us to learn more about how you can avoid high-interest loans while learning valuable skills for future success in business and leadership.