Putting the primer coat on an entrepreneurial career

It's 10:30 A.M., and my workday four hours ago:

6:30 a.m.: Visit the paint store to make sure my crews have all the materials they need to maximize efficiency.

7 a.m.: Update the excel spreadsheet to keep track of expenses.

8 a.m.: Visit the job we finished yesterday and pick up my reference letter before the satisfied homeowners leave for work.

9 a.m: Set up goals for the day with my crews.

9:30 a.m.: Do an estimate and close the job.

Now I grab a bagel and have a 45-minute break before I interview painters to start my next crew so that I can grow my business a little more. This is what my summer internship is like.

If you had asked me last September where I would be this summer, the answer likely would have involved some exotic travel adventure: a safari in Africa, or maybe a tour of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. After all, tales from my travel adventures make up the bulk of my story repertoire, and pictures from my latest trip, to Morocco, decorate the walls of my dorm room at Boston University's School of Management.

But a casual signature on a sign-up sheet at my intro to management class last year led to an unexpected adventure. Three interviews later, I embarked on an entrepreneurial internship that has turned out to be the greatest learning experience of my life.

College Works Painting has given me the opportunity to run my branch of a business for the summer, the opportunity to create something as great as my effort and dedication will build.

The company gives me training and all the support I need. It is my job to build the business.

The experience allows me to live through each one of the stages involved in creating a business. In February, I began doing marketing and attracting potential customers. By mid-March I was doing estimates and selling not just a paint job, but the best service available. By late April, I was conducting interviews and hiring painters. By June, it was finally time to launch our service.

Now I can take pride in saying I have built a small business, and it is fully within my power to make it grow.

I have learned a great deal about business, marketing, profitability, expenses, accounts, managing employees, and creating the highest possible level of customer satisfaction.

But the true value of this internship is that my ability to overcome constant challenges determines the level of my success.

There's no room for slacking, because no one will do the work for me; there is no room for being in a bad mood, because I need to motivate my employees.

Each hurdle is an opportunity to learn and to prove my determination to stay optimistic during the rougher times. In the world of entrepreneurs, keeping the motivation and the energy to jump over the hurdles is what makes the difference between the successful and the average.

That's what I tell myself as I head out to interview painters to start my next crew.

Melisa Rodriguez is about to jump into her third year at Boston University's School of Management.

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