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University of South Carolina

Alex Cwiakala

Throughout my experience with Student Painters, I have learned so much. I have grown as a person and as a businessman. I marketed a painting business with no painting knowledge. I recently spoke with the manager of Sherwin Williams and he told me I had more drive than most contractors by going out and heavily marketing a territory on a consistent basis. Most painters can’t say they have dropped ten thousand plus fliers in a couple of months or that they paid out 80 cold calling hours. I have learned how to market. I have also learned how to spot a good employee from a bad one and that even the best interviews don’t always come through; seeing them with a paint brush is needed. Production has been the most difficult part for me throughout the summer. Learning how to manage a crew as well as myself took longer than it should have. One of the most influential things I learned I that I am a natural seller. I had a customer put on paper, “Alex can sell Ice to Eskimos!” Selling, however, does no good if you cannot produce it. If you can’t produce, you don’t market. Customers have been good and bad. I have learned to close a deal and fix problems timely. I take pride in not having to involve my executives in any issue; I resolved all of them on my own. Overall I have great stories to tell my employers and friends. Most of the people I know have not been able to do something like this. Student Painters allowed me to take my drive and make into something real. That’s the difference between most students and me.

Christian Chasmer

I started YEAA when I was a junior in college. My first summer I ran a $73,000 business and profited $9,500. More important than the money, though, was the life changing experience I had through the internship. I learned more about the real world and real business in 6 months with YEAA than I did my entire college career. There is nothing like running your own business while still in college. You experience all the high's and all the low's. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was also where I learned the most. I came back my second year as an Executive and trained 5 other college students how to run their own businesses. My team produced $365,000 ( 2 of them being freshman in college). As hard as it is to believe, I learned even more my second year and profited around $22,000. If you want to win early in life, and are willing to put in the work, this is the internship for you. 

Matt Hahn

This past year was without a doubt the biggest challenge and obstacle I have ever overcome.  I feel as though I am on top of the world because of where I was a year ago and how I viewed myself then and how I view my motivation now and even my morals.  In my opinion there is no other person out there as hungry as I am to succeed and influence others. One of my biggest goals for myself is to be able to 12 months from now look back at my last year and be able to say I positively influenced a group of Branch Managers lives and greatly as mine was able to be this past year.  One of the biggest things I look forward to is being able to recruit the “A-Players” and develop and pull a bit of greatness out of them that maybe even they did not realize they had.  Another one of my goals is to keep the rapidly growing rate of student painters up by recruiting the strongest team yet at South Carolina. I would also like to run my business as well because I feel as though if I had the entire year back over again with my experience I would be able to strive even higher. I honestly feel as though it’s hard to put down on paper how strongly I feel about how my life has been flipped upside down in the most positive way possible.

Jon DeAsis

When I was first hired into this program 9 months ago I only knew a small fraction of what I was getting into. I understood that I would be running a business but could not comprehend what that really meant. To be honest, no one really can until one has tried it. But there I was, 18 year old, freshman me, about to be thrust into the most influential learning period of my life. And that really is no exaggeration. I haven’t learned more in such a short period of time than I have from this internship. Sure, I learned a whole lot about business but I would have to say that I learned a whole lot more about myself. And that’s astounding to me. After 18 years, you would think that you know a decent amount about yourself, your limits, and what you’re capable of. I was very wrong about that. From this internship, I have quite possibly doubled my knowledge about myself. Who knew there was that much more to learn? This internship really teaches you what entrepreneurialism is all about: seizing the day and using it to reach your dreams. I learned in a way that I never had learned before. I was pushed by myself and only myself. Previously in my life, I’ve had coaches, my parents, and teachers pushing me to be better and telling me what to do. This time, I was my own boss and telling myself what to do and pushing myself to be better. And when you’re finally put into that situation in life, you can finally understand who you are and what drives you. I have not had a more challenging period in my life but I also haven’t had one so rewarding. The things you learn, people you meet, and experiences you go through are ones that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. And because of that I will forever be grateful to have been a part of this program. Good luck.

Nick Tennison

When I joined YEAA I hoped to gain experience in leadership and sales with an over all understanding of the entrepreneurs lifestyle. YEAA provided all of this as well as much more; I gained a heightened understanding of myself and others. I learned to asses and influence my own attitude regularly to make sure that the perspective I was taking was the one most desired. This helped me tackle problems with creativity, maintain great relationships with my customers and co-workers, and persist through adversity. The YEAA internship has helped me realize what I like and dislike about entrepreneurship, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can use this information to personalize my career path. Having employees taught me a new level of responsibility, empathy, and leadership ideology. I learned that business (and life) is about people and success correlates directly with how you treat them. I also learned that though the life of an entrepreneur is different than most and more difficult than most I love it and will never do anything else. I enjoyed watching peoples needs be met the most. Whether it was a customer with a tricky problem and a particular solution or an employee that desired certain growth from their experience watching them reach these goals brought me fulfillment. I joined YEAA to develop myself. I got so much more. I made great friends, had great experiences, and the passion to develop others. I would recommend YEAA to someone with exceptional moral character and an overwhelming potential for growth.


Dan Smith

When I joined YEAA last fall, I had no idea the journey I was about to experience. I went from your everyday college student to an actual entrepreneur. This is truly one of the most unique programs in the country. As a manager with YEAA I developed extreme discipline and confidence. I learned that you can hit any goal you set as long as you have a well thought out plan and an iron-like focus. I have learned so much more about business over the last 9 months than I have throughout my college career. This program has truly changed my life. I would recommend this program to any student who is extremely driven and wants to see what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. It’s not easy, but if it were, everyone would be an entrepreneur. I can’t thank Joel and the other executives enough for this opportunity, joining YEAA was one of the best decisions of my life.

Kyle Sheldon

Student Painter’s was an enlightening experience, not only into how business works but also enlightens you about yourself. It took me from knowing ABSOLUTELY nothing to being pretty successful in a few short months. There were lows and there were highs, there were thoughts of giving up and excitement beyond belief. I put in a lot of work and had to really decide if I wanted to succeed or just do the bare minimum. I realized in the very beginning that my business was directly proportionate to the amount of work I put in. This program is NOT easy but, they say hard work is satisfying, this couldn’t be truer.  This program WILL change your perspective and, if you put in the work and keep the right mindset, it will propel you towards a successful and bright future.  One piece of advice I would give to future entrepreneurs would be to listen to your executive, never think you know it all, stay positive and NEVER give up. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to have been a part of this program and recommend it to anyone who has the drive and ambition to separate themselves from the status quo. Many people dream of running their own business and this program allows you to do what many only dream about. I started this program as a college student and left it as an entrepreneur.

James Roper

When I was hired into the Young Entrepreneurs organization, I was a sophomore in college. After three years of growth in not only my abilities as a young business owner, but my passion for leadership, I have decided to start my professional career with YEAA. When making my decision, I looked back at the experience that I had gained over the last 3 years and realized that I love the culture and the ideals that we were able to train in our young managers too much to go anywhere else. I look forward to the continued opportunity to run my own business right out of college while continuing my passion of helping develop young entrepreneurs for the future!

Crystal McCullough

Young Entrepreneurs has given me the opportunity to explore every aspect of owning a small business. I have never been in a program that has pushed me outside of my comfort zone more, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. This amazing company held my hand throughout this terrifying process. My executive and team of managers around me did everything they could to make sure I was successful and reached my full potential. Looking back over the past 7 months, I can clearly see how I have developed personally as well as professionally. When I was hired in the spring, I did not fully understand what all needed to be done to be successful in this program. Although my initial training was extremely informative, nothing could fully prepare me to market, recruit, manage, and produce on the Student Painters level. I had to go out and just do it! After my first week of attempting to market, I was so far away from my comfort zone, I panicked. My executive Alex Cwiakala and VP Joel Puthoff wouldn’t let me give up on myself. Alex took the initiative to market with me until I was comfortable enough to do it by myself. The rest of the spring and summer was a series of successes and learning experiences. Every day I learned something new about management and painting. I finished the summer with a $30,000 business and two awesome painters. The support I found from my team of managers is what motivated me the most. I would not have finished the summer successfully if it had not been for Alex and the A-Team culture he created between me and two other managers. I truly owe a large chuck of my success to his support. Working in the Carolina division with Joel was also a blast! Joel created a culture that allowed the branch managers to relax and form great partnerships and friendships with each other. The networking opportunities and team bonding events were my favorite part of this internship. I would recommend everyone considering business as a future career field to research this company and see how successful college students can be. I chose this internship because it was completely different from any other position available to me. I gained well rounded knowledge about starting and managing a business as well as the ability to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have learned that being an entrepreneur is about trying a lot of new things, failing at a few, but then learning how to turn those failures into successes. I was by no means the best manager in the Carolinas. I struggled, I was stressed, and I even considered quitting the first week, but I overcame these things. I learned to work hard, and then I learned to work smart. I am proud of myself for finishing the summer strong and I am extremely grateful for the experience.

Daniel Bretz

My name is Daniel Bretz, an upcoming senior at the University of South Carolina, and I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Student Painters.  I was first interested in joining the company after I heard about it in one of my business classes. I liked the idea of running my own business and calling all the shots so I couldn’t wait to take on the challenge.

Throughout the whole process I could see my self transforming from an immature college kid to a young business professional, while constantly having to improve my game and jump over the next hurtle my business threw at me.  Over the course of the summer I became better at what I did everyday and never stopped improving and pushing myself. After all, I joined this company to prove to myself I was capable of running a business and I knew it would come with its fair share of obstacles.

After everything was said and down I could not be more satisfied with my business and the time I put into building it from the ground up since day one.  My skills and abilities have been put to the test by personally building, growing, and running a $128,115 business. 

Looking back I realized I achieved something I never thought possible.  It was truly bigger than myself.  I had successfully operated a full-scale business in the course of one year while I was at college and made enough money to pay off all of my student loans.  The company has a great culture and I can’t wait to take the relationships I have made with me for the rest of my life. I am so excited to take on the rest of life’s challenges after embarking on this one.


Jake Lauritzen

Student Painters was the best learning and work experience of my life.  I joined Student Painters to acquire more business knowledge and experience. Now that I have completed my first year with Student Painters I find myself knowing more about business than most graduating seniors because this internship stresses the “learning by doing” attitude.  This program took me from having the mindset of creating a great resume for a job to having the mindset of an entrepreneur.  My life goals and attitude have changed and improved in these past 9 months with Student Painters.  This internship is not easy but I am a better student and person for the experience.  I would encourage future managers to be very coachable and very hard working.  My goal for Student Painters was to run a $100,000 business and I achieved this goal.  This personal victory did not come without fighting extreme adversity through determination and help from other managers, my executive Matt Hahn and Joel Puthoff.  Not only do managers get great experience and compensation, they find themselves in a great community of other students across the country.  I made great money for a college student and I have also made life long friendships with managers all over the southeast.  I have had great jobs in the past and I have never felt as rewarding as I have with my Student Painters business.  Every manager who completes this internship will feel that sense of gratification no matter how big the business.  I will never be the same after completing this internship and I would encourage any student interested to challenge themselves and run a business. 


Ryan Bunts

This summer was easily one of the most stressful and crazy summers of my entire life.  I came into this program knowing that it wouldn’t be easy, but I had no idea what was in store for me.  Starting my business at $26,000 on May 18th, there didn’t seem like much possibility of reaching the $70,000 goal that was so sought out.  Throughout the Summer I ended up producing almost triple of what I sold in the preseason and finishing over $70,000. This program has taught me more about running a business than any class will, and I’m certain of that.  While some of the hardships and difficulties seemed formidable at times, having the will to reach my goal and the tenacity to not give up, I learned more than I ever would if everything were to have gone smoothly.  People learn from their mistakes, and this program has taught me how to mess up and get right back up.  You’ll only lose once you decide that you’ve lost.  The way I think will be changed forever, and I’m grateful to be a part of the Student Painters family.  Congrats to everyone who has ran a business through Student Painters.  No one else will know how much we’ve went through and that’s what makes the culture so unbeatable. 


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