About: Nate Harmann - Class of 2004
I Dont Want A Normal Job
'I don't want a normal job'
By Holly Wagner
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
College kids do plenty of odd jobs during the summer to earn money for school.
Few get a chance to run their own business.
Quincy High School graduate Nate Harmann was hired by College Works, a California-based company, to run his own painting business this summer. He had to drum up the jobs, hire and train his employees, handle the payroll and make sure the work got done and done well.
"It's an opportunity not a lot of kids get," Harmann said. "I feel lucky to have it."
Harmann, 19, is a sophomore business major at the University of Illinois. It was there he learned about the internship opportunity through College Works, a branch of National Services Group.
National Services Group developed the program to provide college students with a chance to gain business and leadership skills through managing a business. Its program focuses on work ethic, management skills and leadership.
The selection process is highly competitive, Harmann said. He was one of about 6,000 to be interviewed, and only about 125 made the cut. And not all of them stuck it out.
Harmann was hired in October and spent several weekends in training. He learned the painting process, and in particular how to estimate a painting job and establish standards.
"Painting is a good product to take on the adventure of running your own business," Harmann said. "It has a short learning curve ... It's not hard to learn or teach."
Starting in February, he spent his weekends driving back to Quincy to set up jobs.
"I think the most difficult part was cold-calling," he said. "It was intimidating going up to a door for the first time and explaining yourself and what you're doing."
Now, he said, "my favorite part is meeting new people and talking with clients."
Most potential customers wanted to know why they should hire college students over professionals.
"One of the things I always said was a lot of college students are still in bed. I would get up and drive home on weekends and start doing estimates at 8 in the morning. I told them, the difference between me and other college kids is that I'm here at home on weekends early in the morning working.
"I was very, very dedicated to running a successful business. It was not necessarily the money. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could establish myself in the business environment and succeed at that. It was very much a pride thing."
Harmann started the hiring process about a month before school ended. He started out with about nine employees and about four stuck with him through the summer.
"Some dropped off, some I kind of had to let go," he said.
But they've had enough work to last them the summer. Harmann's crew finished off their 15th house this week and are painting State Street Bank in the evenings. This month he'll move on to managing the internship in Macomb.
Harmann gives a lot of credit for the venture's success to his employees, some of whom are friends from high school where he was president of the senior class.
"They were incredibly hard workers ... willing to do anything," he said.
One of his most important roles on the job site was keeping his workers happy, he said, supplying them with food and drink.
Harmann paid his workers about $7 an hour, and said his own return "was pretty good for a college student ... Everything will get pumped back into school."
Next summer he hopes to expand on his experience.
"I don't want a normal job," he said. "I want to get out there and run my own business, be my own boss."
Contact Staff Writer Holly Wagner at
(217) 221-3374 or firstname.lastname@example.org