Junior year is in the books. Wow! Time is absolutely flying. In the early fall, I went on the Student Painters awards trip to the Bahamas. Similar to last year, it was really cool meeting the countries most successful branch managers and hearing their stories from the summer. I continued volunteering at The 86 coffee shop, this semester taking on the very coveted role of pancake flipper. Every Wednesday morning, I was in there choppin' it up for our customers! Towards the end of the semester, I also discovered the UC Rowing team and started working out with them. I can't lie, they're kind of crazy. They train 6 days a week, 5-7am. I had to adjust my sleep schedule very quickly to get acclimated, but there is something very satisfying about getting a workout in before most people are awake!
I also had some pretty difficult classes, although one class that I had a blast with was my travel journalism class. This was a refreshing elective through UHP that served as a nice vacation from econometrics and programming, and the massive cherry on top was a trip to Iceland at the end of the semester!
I made some great friends in the class, and the trip itself was unbelievable. After a sleepless red eye flight, we drove straight to the Blue Lagoon and got there right at opening. It was pitch black, foggy and 20 degrees outside; which made the steaming hot water and overall experience all the more surreal. Reykjavik is a gorgeous city, and I think back on all of our experiences fondly. I can't wait to travel back one day and explore further.
After getting back from Iceland, I moved up to Cleveland for my spring co-op with Lubrizol. After working with Student Painters for two years, managing my own branch, building my own schedule and meeting new clients everyday, this would be a much different experience. Lubrizol is a global chemical company, and my job was in their Information Solutions department doing scripting work. I had some very important takeaways from Lubrizol. While I absolutely loved the people that I worked with, and enjoyed exploring Cleveland, this semester served as confirmation to me that I 100% prefer working for myself. I understand the chaos and uncertainty of entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, but I love it. Everyday is unique, filled with challenges, hardships and successes. You can never predict what is going to get thrown at you.
COVID has certainly presented some challenges for us this summer, although as with anything else we adapt and overcome. We have been working hard and staying busy, and have recently made some equipment upgrades. I can't wait to see where we can take this business over the next few years.
Overall, this year has been one full of memories and experiences. I've done some travelling, found some new hobbies, and met a ton of great people. After this summer, I'll be returning to classes in the fall. Depending on how the University decides to handle study abroads, I could potentially be travelling to both India and Australia this year! Last year the India trip was canceled, so my fingers are crossed that we can go this fall.
I have finished up my real estate classes, and will be taking my exam soon to get my realtors license. This will present more opportunities to me as I approach the end of my stint at UC. I plan on graduating this spring.
While there's a lot of uncertainty right now, I have no doubt in my mind this school year will be one to remember. I can't wait to get back on campus, finish up my studies and continue exploring what the world has to offer.
Sophomore year was awesome! The definitive highlight from the fall was my study tour to Chile. I took a class that covered the astronomy and geology of the area, and then we went to the Atacama desert where the astronomy and geology are unlike anything I have ever seen before. I remember waking up on the plane after being in the air for 9 hours and feeling like I was on Mars. From the busy and bustling capital of Santiago, to the port town of Antofagasta, and to the small village of San Pedro, each location had its own personality and experiences. There wasn’t a meal I had that wasn’t absolutely incredible, and I am absolutely going to return! The culture is completely opposite of America and I really enjoyed my time.
My spring semester was extremely busy, as this is when my work with Student Painters started kicking back up. In addition to school, I also worked a part time job at Bravos as a serving assistant and drove back to Columbus every weekend to work on my painting business. It was a major grind and I genuinely don’t know how I scraped by with the grades that I did, but I am proud and content of my progress nevertheless! Now that summer has started, my focus has shifted primarily to the painting business and keeping my guys employed all summer! I have also started a power washing business with a friend and I am studying real estate sales courses through Hondros College so that I can start working as a real estate agent soon.
For this summer, my initial goal was to run two painting crews full time and generate the most revenue possible. I have since shifted my focus to running a smaller, more profitable painting business and also spending my time studying real estate. Not only will this be less stressful, but it will allow me to work towards my goal of working as a real estate agent by the fall. I also have the massive goal of purchasing my first home in the fall of my third year of college, which will require a substantial amount of capital to make happen. I feel that prioritizing a clean, profitable business rather than trying to generate the highest revenue number will allow me to accomplish this goal.
While there are some very difficult major specific classes, I am unbelievably excited for two classes in particular - I am taking another study tour through the University Honors Program to Iceland with a class studying travel journalism, and I will also be going to India for a business trip studying business practices all over the country! We will be leaving for Iceland December 13th and returning on the 23rd, and then I will be leaving for India on January 1st and returning on the 13th, just in time for spring classes to start! I have always wanted to visit both of these countries, and I can’t wait to travel to these places! These trips will be my third and fourth time out of the country, in addition to my Student Painter awards trip to the Bahamas and my study tour to Chile which were both this year! I have been grinding but also trying to reward myself along the way.
Work hard play hard.
During my first year of college I have seen a complete change in my personal and professional life. During high school I had absolutely no motivation to put forth effort, and this led to a self fulfilling prophecy of negativity. I went in with low expectations, and this poorly impacted my perception of school. I had a realization during my senior year that I didn’t have a good plan for the future, and that’s when I decided to turn things around. During my first year, I tried out different clubs, got accepted into a competitive internship, and maintained good grades.
From skydiving club to cheese club to boxing club, I tried a little bit of everything. When I initially got to campus I had a void of unoccupied time, and I was trying to fill it with something productive. I was interested in many more clubs, but my schedule only permitted my attendance to a few - and boxing was the club that quickly began standing out to me. I was extremely nervous and had many negative preconceived notions of how hostile and rude existing members could potentially be - but quickly learned that the club was very accepting to all members regardless of physical ability. This, coupled with my poor attitude in high school, led me to realize how detrimental a negative outlook can be on life. From that point on I considered all options openly and without bias, and it led me to some incredible opportunities, such as my internship with Student Painters.
I have a more in depth account of my experience with Student Painters so far written in my retroactive experience proposal, however in short; it has changed my life completely. While that may sound dramatic, I have truly never seen more personal and professional growth in such a short amount of time - and I am now a firm believer that a person will develop and grow the most when they are the furthest out of their comfort zone. The prospect of me selling paint jobs to complete strangers without any prior experience with sales, business management, or painting… suffice to say I didn’t have high hopes. But then I remembered how poorly a negative outlook had impacted me in the past, and I decided to flip the script entirely. Rather than setting low, or even acceptable goals, I set the bar high for myself. The average branch manager will sell and produce about $55,000 in jobs from February to August. Feeling confident, I set my personal goal at $80,000. I worked tirelessly, with absolutely no excuses, to work towards my goal. From being threatened by sheriffs, to having my car punched at 2am, to having a painter put a hole in a customer’s roof, to losing money on a job because we had to do a second coat on the entire house for free; I have dealt with a lot of stressful situations in a very short amount of time. I drove home every weekend, two hours each way, to market for my business. I had one of the lowest sales success rates in the company during the first month and a half, so even though I had completed the second most estimates in the entire company, I still had mediocre sales numbers; but I didn’t give up and continued improving my sales and people skills. Just one week into the summer, I had gone from a 15% sales success rate to 50%, and I had sold over $75,000 in paint jobs. Finishing in the top 1% with $105k produced, I’d say the ‘no excuses’ mentality began paying dividends; and I will continue to utilize this powerful mindset for the rest of my life. I have simply removed a failing mindset from my playbook. I no longer view small obstacles as insurmountable monsters, but simply inconveniences that should be addressed on my way to the end goal. I am continuing with Student Painters into my sophomore year, and have high hopes for the future.
Finally, despite keeping myself busy I continued focusing on schoolwork. I recognized the advantages that honors programs provide to students, which is why I applied to the UHP and to business honors. Not only do these programs look nice on a resume, but they also provide academic and travel opportunities unavailable to normal students; and I did not want to feel like I was missing out on more beneficial experiences.
To conclude - where do I go from here? When I return to school in the fall I will continue working with Student Painters and focusing on classes. I have a study tour that leaves for Chile in December, and I am currently considering business related study abroads for the spring or for next fall. I have learned to set the bar extremely high, as this keeps me motivated and moving down a successful track. Overall, I have grown a lot as a person this year. My experience at the University of Cincinnati has been excellent thus far, and I am eager to see what my sophomore year will hold.