Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Dr. Ralph Brigham & Southwestern Advantage Awarded Top Internship in U.S. for 2019

Dr. Ralph Brigham and Southwestern Advantage have been selected as recipients of the 2019 Charles F. Kettering Award. 

Each year, Cooperative Education & Internship Association (CEIA) recognizes one recipient of the Charles F. Kettering Award for excellence in industry, business, or government internship/cooperative education programs. CEIA is the national leader in cooperative education and internship program management. 

This award comes with the distinction of being rated as the top rated internship/cooperative education employer in the nation providing outstanding resources and service to college students and the profession. Southwestern Advantage joins a prestigious group of past winners including IBM, NASA, Walt Disney, AT&T, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Bloomingdale’s, Ford, and General Motors.
For the past 17 years Dr. Brigham has served as the company’s Global Director of Campus Relations. In his role, Dr. Brigham is the liaison between universities and Southwestern Advantage in building and maintaining relationships with the more than 200 universities in North America, Europe, and Asia that have students participating in the program (over 1,600 campuses total in 151 years of continuous operation). He has been invited to speak to students at universities across the United States and in France, England, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Kazakhstan to name some recent countries. 

Dr. Brigham has served as the president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which includes about 9,000 careers center professionals and campus relations directors. And, in 2013 he was inducted into the NACE Academy of Fellows. Prior to his time with Southwestern Advantage, he was the Director of Career Services at Montana State University. He is currently serving as Professional Vice President of the National Council for Pi Sigma Epsilon, the professional sales and leadership fraternity. Dr. Brigham is a certified life coach, mentoring students and professionals in topics like finance, career, and health and wellness, and developing habits to build a successful life.

I am humbled and honored to be recognized by CEIA, and for Southwestern Advantage to also be recognized alongside some of the top companies in the world. For over 150 years, Southwestern Advantage has provided services and opportunities for college students to gain an experiential education through our entrepreneurial program. This award is a result of the principles that the company stands for and instills in the students who participate,” said Dr. Brigham.

Southwestern Advantage is the oldest entrepreneurial program in the United States. Since 1868, Southwestern Advantage has offered a sales & leadership program that gives university students a way to afford their degrees, gain entrepreneurial skills, and build character. Each summer, a sales force of nearly 1,500 independent student reps market an educational learning system to families across the US & Canada through direct sales.

In addition, Southwestern Advantage empowers university students with the tools, training, and coaching they need to build their own businesses and gain transferable life skills. The product line of early learning, homework help, and SAT/ACT resources help millions of children excel academically and feel excited about school. Student representatives meet with families for short consultative visits to discuss education and show a line of websites, apps, and books that help families reach their academic goals. 

Southwestern Advantage is a member of Southwestern Family of Companies:

Established in Nashville, Tennessee in 1855, Southwestern Family of Companies is a diversified, growing, international, and employee-owned company built on a foundation of principles and purpose. Comprised of companies with a shared mission of building people and helping others, Southwestern Family of Companies provides a large range of products and services, including educational books and websites, school fundraising efforts, healthy meal solutions, luxury travel packages, financial advising, consulting services, sales and leadership coaching and more. 

Southwestern Family of Companies has expanded beyond Southwestern Advantage to include member companies across a range of industries and continues to grow each year. For more information, visit

Press Release
Contact: Trey Campbell, APR 
Director of Communications

View Press Release:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Lisl & Maddie, Southwestern Advantage Student Reps, CU-Boulder

With a variety of “my experience” stories floating around out there, here are two helpful messages from CU-Boulder students who did two simple and crucially important things: they completed the entirety of their selling season, and they used their training.

Visit their Facebook business pages to see more of their experience with Southwestern Advantage:

Learn more about Southwestern Advantage:

Friday, March 1, 2019

Southwestern Advantage: America's Oldest Direct Selling Company

FAQ: How do you classify Southwestern Advantage?
Southwestern Advantage is the oldest direct selling company in America. We're incredibly proud of our program's history, but we're even more proud to be associated with the young people who have the character it takes to participate.

Many people mistakenly assume that direct selling is synonymous with multi-level marketing (MLM), or even worse – they confuse it with illegal pyramid schemes. The fact is, they're extraordinarily different. Pyramid schemes have tried masquerading as MLM or direct sales, which has caused confusion with many people. There are clear differences that we felt are important to share, because the spreading of misinformation helps no one.

The profit of our first-year participants comes 100% from the direct selling of educational products; recruitment is not even an option. Of the personal income that all Southwestern Advantage independent reps generated for themselves in 2018, 92.8% was from their own direct selling; 7.2% was additional income opportunities from the company. This is one reason, among the others listed, that we classify our entrepreneurial program as being a direct selling opportunity for university students. 

Learn more:

Federal Trade Commission: 

Direct Selling Association:

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Dave Ramsey on Action Catalyst Podcast • Southwestern Advantage

Dave Ramsey visits with Southwestern Advantage president Dan Moore on our podcast The Action Catalyst.
Listen to the full interview here:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Hourly Intern & The Southwestern Advantage Sales Intern

Guaranteed hourly pay is a great fit for many people. It frustrates others to feel that they outwork their co-workers only to be paid the same rate; they would rather be paid according to their effort. In this article, we'll compare how savings can work between an hourly college intern (W-2) versus what a first year Southwestern Advantage sales intern (1099-MISC) can save before ever advancing into a leadership role. Sometimes this money & tax stuff gets dense. We'll try to keep this readable.

$20 per Hour
Let's say you intern at a local firm. This firm pays you a very generous $20 per hour and you work 35 hours each week. Your gross pay will be $700 ($20 X 35) per week. You're happy, your friends envy you, your parents are proud, life's great! But then, Uncle Sam immediately shows up to take his share: Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and Income tax. (State income tax varies; a few lucky states don't have this tax.)

Net Pay
Your net pay is what's actually on your paycheck once taxes are taken out. If you make $700 one week, your taxes may look something like this, depending on the state:

Federal income tax
11 % of gross pay
$700 x .11
= $77.00
State income tax*
4 % of gross pay
$700 x .04
= $28.00
Social Security tax
6.2 % of gross pay
$700 x .062
= $43.40
Medicare tax
1.45 % of gross pay
$700 x .0145
= $10.15
Total taxes

$700 – $158.55 = $541.45 on the paycheck

x12 week summer: $6,497.40

Oh right, it costs money to live life. Let’s be very conservative and assume you only spend a combined $100 per week on food, rent, transportation, and other expenses. After 12 weeks, you would have spent a minimum of $1200.

Your in-hand savings:  $5,297.40
Now, let’s look at a first year Southwestern Advantage sales intern (1099-MISC)
For context, in 2017, the #100 ranked First Year SWA Salesperson made a gross pre-tax profit of $8,474 which historically in our program is pretty standard for that ranking. Not high, not low, very normal.
How might this sort out with 1099-MISC tax status? First, you are not taxed immediately on your gross-profit. You are able to deduct your business expenses. Let’s take that $8,474 as our gross profit for this example and subtract the $2,000 you spent on business expenses like credit card processing fees, product freight, etc., and let's toss out an extra $500 just for good measure (make it rain!). The amount you're taxed on is now at $5,974.

Next, you get to deduct what’s called a per-diem rate. Uncle Sam offers a variety of daily deductions for small business owners to help them better-afford food, travel, etc. Let’s use a common per-diem rate of $20/day. After 12 weeks, that’s $1,680. Now, this doesn’t decrease our in-hand money (you already deducted your expenses), this decreases the amount that’s taxed, which brings us down further to $4,294.
Every mile driven earns you 53.5¢ per mile in deductions (54.5¢ for 2018). Let’s say you drove 700 miles each week of the summer, for 8,400 total miles. You pick: deduct about $750 in total gas expenses or deduct $4,494 in mileage (pick mileage).

Good news, there are even more deductions you can take! But instead, let’s stop there. Why? Because your deductions have brought you down to $0 that Uncle Sam will now tax you on.

What if you don't make it down to $0? Starting in 2018, you can take advantage of the Qualified Business Income Deduction. QBID says that if you end up above 0 after you've exhausted all of your deductions, you can chop 20% more off that number before taxes kick in. Compare that to the $20/35 job with $158.55 taken out weekly for taxes.

Remember that $750 you spent on gas, though? That dropped your in-hand money from $5,974 to $5,224. So, in this hypothetical situation, you finished the summer having made $8,474 total, but after expenses, ending up with $5,224 in-hand. The $20/35 job had $5,297.40 in-hand.

These numbers are kinda close. So...
  • How likely is it to find a $20 per hour 35 hours per week summer job? Possible, sure; but probable? Is it more realistic to earn $15/hr and work fewer than 30 hours per week? 
$15 x 30 x 12 weeks = $5400 – taxes = $4,177
  • Say you land a $15/30 job, how likely is it that you’ll only spend $100 per week? Is it more realistic that you’ll spend ~$200/wk for 12 weeks?  
$4,177 – $2,400 = $1,777 saved
Consider what actually ends up in your pocket – the amount you save.
Hypothetical hourly intern: $1,777
Hypothetical SWA sales intern: $5,224

Lastly, cut $1,000 cash from the SWA sales intern's savings, and give a $1,000 cash bonus to the hourly intern. The SWA salesperson has still saved 80% more. This student is in a far better position to afford school, life, and start a Roth IRA before they even advance into the leadership opportunities within our program.
Southwestern Advantage interns understand that, in sales, working 3x as hard can save them 3x or more by the end of their summer.
Do you like the idea of your pay and savings being determined by your effort?
Do you think you could finish in the top 100?  

The above content was made possible by Southwestern Tax Services – a full-service tax firm within the Southwestern Family of Companies.