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.

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