AUSTIN, TEXAS -- It was my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin when I first heard of College Works Painting. I actually thought it was some research internship when I first received a call to go to an information session. It wasn't. My first reaction to the internship was negative since I was a science major. Why not just do research? Also it seemed like it was very difficult and time-consuming. Then I started to think about what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to go.
One of the things I realized is that when it came to anything other than math and science, I was pretty bad at it. With dreams as big as I had, I was going to need two things: work experience, and the ability to deal with people. From what I could tell, even though it was never something I imagined I'd ever be doing, running a painting business for the summer would get me those two things. So I went ahead and got the internship.
I remember the internship as being a constant rush and I remember being out of my comfort zone 95% of the time. It felt like there was always something to get done, it was kind of exhilarating. Even though most of the things I was doing made me extremely nervous, such as doing a sales presentation without prior sales experience, I found myself learning them pretty fast. I realized that when you work at a fast pace, and have a lot to get done, you become really good at things very fast.
Never before had I felt pushed in this way, so this was the first time I had learned that lesson. By the end of the internship, after a ton of hard work and lots of paint, I had achieved what I set out to find and more. I had work experience, and the ability to deal with people.
Honestly, I would not recommend this internship to most people. Here's why: not everyone is ready to grow up and start working hard. If you are ready for a challenge, and you have the maturity to think long-term about your future. Then do it. However, if you are scared about missing out on partying, school clubs, and the "college experience," then don't do it; not because you won't ever party, I partied a lot, but because you are not mature enough for it.
EUGENE, OREGON -- My experience with College Works has overall been incredible. When I happened upon the internship 2 years ago I knew it was unlike any other internship I've happened upon. I immediately was intrigued. I know there are reviews out there of bad experiences and such from interns and it was certainly the single most challenging thing I have ever done, don't get me wrong. However, This type of internship sparked my interest because I knew if I completed something as challenging as this I would be proud to say that I have done it.
The way I look at things, anything worth doing... is going to be a challenge... that is what makes it worth it. My first year I ran an $80,000 business with many bumps along the way and let me tell you, I was not very good at this business to start out. Typically what ends up happening is college students find out that it is going to be challenging and give up when the going gets tough...i didn't. I stuck it out! Passed every challenge and each struggle and was eventually able to say that at 19 years old I was able to run a very successful $80,000 business and made 38% profit! Now that isn't typical.
The average is around 20% but I was diligent with making sure I knew where every penny was spent and spent countless hours on my job sites ensuring my guys were as efficient and quick as possible. This last year I came back to the company and ran a $104,000 business and learned even more! Personally, even though I had some struggles along the way it was honestly one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned so much about myself and how to run a business and I wouldn't have given that up for anything! I currently am a DM in Eugene, OR and I am now helping to give other students a similar experience I had.
The more lives I can touch and impact, and help them realize that they can do anything that they work diligently for I will consider myself successful. I am thoroughly happy with my experience and highly encourage individuals with immense ambition and drive to do the internship and be ready for a life altering experience!
COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Through the interview process, the company warned me that this was going to be one of the hardest things I had ever done but also one of the most rewarding experiences. They were completely right on both counts. I came into this company with absolutely zero sales or management experience and I definitely struggled at the start. However, as I progressed, I began to realize that I didn't struggle because of a lack of support or talent; all of my difficulties with booking work and marketing my business stemmed from a lack of effort on my part.
College Works Painting worked very hard to make sure I had the tools necessary to succeed. I had weekly meetings with my District Manager as well as frequent meetings with the VP of Sales and Marketing and even meetings with the CEO. With all of this help, though, they can't do the work for you. They would frequently put the problems and solutions squarely on my shoulders, which got frustrating for me at certain points.
There were a lot of times when I wished they would just tell me what to do, but instead they would ask "how are you going to solve this?" and "what could you do next time to avoid this situation and be more successful?" I was expected to come to every meeting prepared with what I wanted to talk about, having a clear handle on the strengths and weaknesses of my branch.
While it was frustrating and difficult, I am so thankful for the opportunities, skills and lessons I took from this internship. In the professional world, there is no one there to baby you through your job. Sure, you get training and people will (hopefully) be there to help you when you need it, but you will not be successful and progress in your career if you do not take ownership and responsibility for your work.
I exited college and was hired directly into management. I am now an Operations Manager for a nationwide management consulting firm and I owe most of my success to the experience and knowledge I gained through College Works Painting. They aren't lying to you; this will be incredibly challenging AND incredibly rewarding. I got to go to Cancun, Mexico 3 times, California twice and Park City, Utah twice as well as countless weekend retreats.
I got to make great money as a college student and build great relationships along the way. But, ultimately, my greatest reward was in the skills transferred and mindset instilled in me by CWP: Be your best in everything you do.
DALLAS, TEXAS -- Everything about this program challenges what students are used to doing. In my college career, this program has been the most beneficial learning experience that I went through. The skill sets you develop throughout the internship such as: how to manage people older than you, how to sell a product (and every profession you will pursue in your future requires selling at some level), and how to manage multiple responsibilities at the same time, are things that you cannot learn in a classroom.
The internship is not easy, and not for quitters, if you have the will power to last to the end of the internship though, then you are truly a winner and your future rewards make the entire thing worth it. I personally struggled through the program and did more things wrong than right and every day that I went to work in the business gave me a new reason to quit. Now, as a recent graduate from Texas A&M with a degree in engineering, because of having that internship on my resume I am getting picked for full time positions that I would otherwise have been excluded from.
When I am asked questions in interviews, I am always able to use my experience with College Works as a positive answer to behavior based questions. And the leaders of the division that I was a part of still serve as mentors to me and help me make good decisions for my life. The difficulties of the internship ended at the end of the summer, but even now, 3 years later I am still reaping the benefits of it.
I would strongly recommend that anyone who is looking for a challenge and to separate themselves from the mass of status quo college students. At the end of the program you will be able to say that it was the most difficult and most beneficial thing that you have ever done and your only regret will be that you did not have one more month to hit your goals.
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- I started working for this company in 2008 and 09. It was not easy in any way. It was actually one of the hardest things I had ever done mentally as it transformed my view on how the world works. Most people go through life without doing anything truly challenging and this internship was my number 1 career enabling move. The ability to start a business and provide the livelihood for other citizens through gainful employment will give you a leg up over any other applicant for any other business.
My advice to homeowners is: Make sure you understand that the majority of interns are doing this for the experience and are fully dedicated to the finest quality finished product. This being said you need to personally judge the character of the Branch manager that comes to your home to make sure that is the type of person you wish to work with.
My advice to the painter is: The branch manager you work for truly cares about the employees making money. The pay structure is identical to a Car Mechanic pay structure which is a great way to determine how much you get paid-if you need additional training to perfect your painting skills the branch manager/district manager/VP will get you ALL the necessary tools for you to make the money you want to make. Ask for help if you need it!
My advice to the Branch Manager is: This is a great experience and your experience entirely depends on your organization and your willingness to ask for help when you need it from the district manager/VP. The key to this business is communication!
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- I am currently in my fifth year with the company and thought I would give an unbiased and informative review of my experience so far.
As an intern, I ran my business out of Brookings, Oregon and did $100,000 worth of business. The experience was pretty good for the most part. It was a lot more work than I thought it would be but it ended up paying off. I made good money for school and also learned a lot about how to work with customers and hire my own employees. During my first year though, I did see that not everyone was as successful as I was. Some people quit or had to be let go, some people did more average numbers ($40,000 - $60,000 revenue) and there were a few who did really well. Not everyone succeeded.
For three years after that I worked out of Oregon State as a District Manager and hired my own team of interns to do what I did during my first year with the company. It was a great experience and again was a lot more work than I thought it would be. The only drawback was all of the driving that I did. I learned a lot about how to teach and coach marketing, sales and production management. Again, we did have a few people that dropped out and not everyone successfully completed the internship for one reason or another.
I'd have to say that most of your success with this program is in how hard you work, but also how smart you work. Putting in a lot of hours is not always the best way to do it. Entrepreneurs think in terms of results, not the amount of hours... and this program is a great teacher of that. If you're looking to work for an hourly wage the rest of your life, this may not be the best internship for you.
I was looking for a summer job in my town (which has a very limited seasonal job market), so when I got hired on to College Works Painting (CWP) as a painter I was really excited. I really like manual labor, and painting is a new skill that would be fun to learn. But the unprofessionalism of my employer made the job lose its fun really quickly.
First off, there was really poor communication between the employer and the employees. When I got hired, the employer asked me if I "would be okay doing a little marketing here and there? It's a good way to get some money before you actually start painting." I said sure. To be honest, I don't really care what I'm doing as long as I am getting paid.
But, it turns out, I wasn't getting paid, and the marketing wasn't optional. I had to market for four hours every week with no actual reimbursement beyond a measly commission. Now, this of course is legal (they don't have to pay for work if your total pay at normalizes to at least minimum wage), and you can require people to market if you want. But neither of these factors (the lack of pay and the requirement of marketing) were not communicated to me upon hiring.
But more importantly, the company (as one might expect from something run by college students) is really unprofessional. We had to attend this training to learn how to paint. We had to drive to the next town over (it's about two hours away) for the training. We were supposed to be there at 7 am, but we (being driven by our employer) didn't show until 8:15. Yet even the district managers weren't there yet, and nobody cared that we were an hour and fifteen minutes late.
The training consisted of us helping paint one house. There were about twenty five painters from all over the region, but one ladder, one paint gun, one paint brush, and about three rolls of masking tape. So those of us not lucky enough to have one of the few supplies were subjected to being yelled at by the supervisor running the training for standing around doing nothing.
The training was bad in other ways, too. I was lucky enough to be on a team with somebody who had painted before, and spent a lot of time pointing out the mistakes to me and, before he was criticized by him, to the supervisor. For example, people would place plastic drop cloths over shrubs so they don't get all painted on, but you're supposed to leave at least one side open so the shrub can "breath". That was never mentioned, so all the shrubs ended up completely covered for hours in the hot sun. They're probably dead now.
I quit after the training. Yet, Oregon labor laws required that I be paid for my training within five days of quitting. I waited two weeks, and still hadn't gotten paid. So I called my supervisor. She didn't answer, and didn't return my message. I called her again a few days later. This time she replied, and told me she would bring my money that day. It turns out she had thrown away my paper work before even entering it to the "system", so she would just have to pay me a flat rate, an estimate of how much I should have been paid. It's been a week now, and even though I've called her a number of times, I still haven't gotten paid.
If you're a college kid looking for some summer work, don't apply at College Works Painting. You'll end up frustrated at the unprofessionalism of your supervisor and the lack of communication in general, and if you quit you'll probably end up having your wages stolen from you.
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- Our house, last painted in 2003, went through an insulation project in August 2011. Numerous holes with grey cement filling appeared all over the external walls. We were, however, not thinking of painting as the last one was done in less than 10 years ago. In March, 2013, however, the situation attracted the attention of ** of College Works Painting. He initiated contact with us. His enthusiasm and sincerity convinced us that it was time to seriously consider painting all the walls. An agreement was then signed in March, 2013. At our request, the work was completed in June.
It was done within a week. Two painters were assigned to work full time painting while ** usually came twice a day to check on them, apart from the initial cleaning of all the walls done totally by him. Overall, my wife and I found ** easy to work with. He was very accommodating to our requests. There were, however, left behind a number of small corners or parts here and there that needed touch-ups. We suspect that the painters might not have been equipped with finer tools like smaller brushes. They might also need closer monitoring. Probably the real test will be the heat of the upcoming summer sun and the dampness of the winter rains. We'll see.
To assign stars, we would say 4.
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA -- I recently had the exterior of my house painted by College Works Painting. My crew was led by **. They did an excellent job and met every expectation that we agreed to before the work started. The two most important things to me were that they were extremely detailed when walking the house before the work began and that they did everything that they promised, and did it on time.
They keep the work area organized and put everything away at night and walked the property with me. They also implemented safety measures while working on the roof. All the surfaces were prepped properly before painting and any minor issues that I identified were fixed without question. I would obviously recommend ** and his crew to anyone in the Flagstaff area that is looking for quality, reliable house painting.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- This is a very frustrating and hard program yet life changing. You will not learn more about people, business, and about yourself with any other internship. DON'T do this for the money. Do it to learn, grow and launch yourself 10 years ahead of your peers. I wouldn't recommend this to people that aren't willing to sacrifice a lot in order to get the most out of this. Working 80+ hours a week may be normal for some people during the summer as it was for me.
If you are competitive and are willing to do what it takes to get to your goal this program will surely test you. I believe this is definitely not for everyone and most people that fail prove it every year. Everyone's experience is always different from the next person because you will work with a different district manager and you're personality, strengths, and weaknesses are not the same as the manager in the next city over.
I learned a lot but a worked ridiculously hard for it. No regrets. There are some clients that don't get good service and complain... it's not the company it's you for not caring about your house enough to constantly check progress and on you for hiring the contractor. You hire the manager not college works.