Exploring Sales as a Career and a Major

By: Amanda

It is easy to hear the word “sales” and have your mind automatically jump to a stereotypical salesperson: motivated only by money, willing to do anything for commission, and making wildly unrealistic promises to close deals. Those looking to choose a career path often say they would do anything but sales. 

All of this being said, these preconceived notions are far from the truth for most positions. Building relationships, working to solve problems, and helping others are just a few characteristics that make sales roles fulfilling and worthy of considerations. Nearly every job has a sales component. 

Sales is becoming increasingly demanded as a career path, with more than 50% of college graduates’ first job being some type of sales-related position. 

Text: Sales as a career and major
Photo: coffee cup on wood desktop

UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) has a Sales minor, Sales Club, and newly established Sales major, making this the ideal time to pursue a Professional Sales career. 

Through the Professional Sales Program, students are taught analytical skills to meet the customer’s needs, gain experience with data analysis to facilitate buying decisions, and are exposed to customer relationship management systems. While all of these technical skills are great, arguably the largest benefit to students through this program is the real-world exposure and networking it provides. Students in the program are given the opportunity to work on projects for companies, participate in mock presentations at local and national competitions, and interface with industry professionals. 

Personally, I am majoring in both Marketing and Sales. I am excited to be apart of the Professional Sales Program at LSBE and I know it is going to be a perfect fit for me for a variety of reasons. I am passionate about connecting and building relationships with others. I know each person has their own story to tell and I go into conversations curious to connect and learn more. Sales is a perfect way to connect my analytical mindset to my love for working with others. Through a Sales internship position with CUNA Mutual Group this past summer, additional job shadowing opportunities, joining the Sales Club at UMD, and an upcoming Sales internship with Land O’Lakes for summer 2020, I have been able to fully delve into a variety of sales areas. By no means am I close to an expert in sales, but I have learned a few things along the way. Based on what I have learned, if you are considering a career path in sales, think about the following ideas: 

  1. We sell to our coworkers and managers all the time. Whether it be a new idea for the office or a proposed team bonding activity, we are basically selling on a day to day basis in some way. 
  2. Think about how you interact with others. Do people find it easy to talk to you? Maybe you’re good at remembering details about people you just met. 
  3. Consider how you manage your goals. If you are thinking of pursuing a career in sales, it is critical to be driven to succeed. A large piece of this is being able to set goals, break them down into actionable steps, and reach them successfully.
  4. How do you solve problems?  Think about the times in your professional and personal life when you have had an issue come up. In sales, it is often helpful to be able to look at a problem and come up with innovative solutions quickly, while also weighing alternatives. 
  5. Look at your personality. In sales, it is common to hear no, or a negative response, on a regular basis. It is important to be upbeat and be able to power through setbacks. Salespeople are also passionate. Passionate about changing lives, making an impact, growing their careers and the product or service they are working with. 

Hopefully, these ideas have helped you figure out whether a career in sales could be the right fit for you. Here at Career & Internship Services, we understand choosing a major, minor, or career path is not an easy decision. We are here to help you through every step of the way. Stop by Solon Campus Center 22 to chat and make a plan today. 

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career; Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources
• Check out Amanda’s Instagram takeover from her summer internship at CUNA Mutual.

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Garrhet Sampson

Tools for Choosing Your Major & Career

By: Rachel

The path to choosing a major is one that looks different for everyone. It seems we’re asked countless times over the years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us are sticking with the same answer we gave in 1st grade, while others have new ideas every day. Before we get to that career, many of us have to decide which major to pursue first.

To share a brief summary of my own experience, I decided what fields I wanted to study in college the summer before my senior year of high school. I had a few different ideas over the years, but they were slowly weeded out as I came to know more about myself. I always had a love for the written word, but I didn’t really want to go into creative writing, and I wasn’t sure what options that left for me. Out of nowhere, grant writing started to come up in conversations with my aunts and uncles, teachers, and other professionals. While I didn’t know a whole lot about it, it sounded like the type of writing I was interested in.

I had a friend who majored in Professional Writing, and one day the idea came to me to pursue a similar major along with a general background in business. I thought this would lend me a wide scope of occupational opportunities while still being areas I was excited to learn about and work in. My pairing was both strategic and driven by my passions; you can read more about that here.

After this idea came to me, I did more research into job outlook and what I could expect. I took a career class spring of my senior year of high school that forced me to conduct informational interviews and research through sources like O*NET OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I remained open to the fact that I might decide to change my majors once I got into college, but the things I learned through my research affirmed my decision. I want to take a moment to highlight the sources I found particularly helpful as well as a few others offered through our office.

Image: open notebook on wood desktop with pens
Text: Tools for choosing your major and career
  • Your network: I never would have even known grant writing existed if it weren’t for the people in my life. Reach out to those around you, especially professionals. It’s important to keep in mind that one person’s opinion/view is just that: one person’s view, but those working in the field have a unique perspective on opportunities that exist and may be able to offer ideas of where your talents and abilities could be used best.
  • Informational interviews & Job shadowing: Informational interviews and job shadowing are additional ways to connect with professionals in a field of interest.  They can provide tips on steps you should take at this point in your life to set yourself up for success in the future, and doing an interview/job shadow can be a great way to add valuable contacts to your network.
  • What Can I Do With a Major In (all majors): There are so many different online resources out there, and I’d recommend not just relying on one. It’s a good idea to cross-reference your data, and different sites provide slightly different types of data. This resource through the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a great one for college students, because it links a major with a bunch of connected job titles as well as related major skills. This provides you with occupation titles you might not have ever heard of that you can plug into other career outlook sites for more information. The related major skills can be super helpful in determining what minor or additional major would be particularly beneficial to you in that field.
  • What Can I Do With This Major? (via University of Tennessee’s Center for Career Development): Somewhat similarly, this site takes majors and breaks them down into more specific areas. Within each area, there are bullet points of typical job duties. Reading through these might pique your interest or turn you away, thus narrowing your search. Each area also includes examples of specific employers and strategies for success in the field. These are helpful tips of steps to pursue in your education, activities, job experiences, etc. in order to build a solid foundation for that specific area.
  • BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Once you have pinpointed a specific job title you’d like to look into, you can use BLS to find a quick summary of median pay, typical education level expected, and job outlook, among other statistics. Across the top, you’ll find additional tabs with information on job responsibilities, how to become one, and similar job titles. One of the tabs I use most is the one that provides state/regionally specific data.
  • O*NET OnLine: One last website I’d like to highlight is O*NET, which is like the BLS Handbook in that it is organized by occupation. It is easy to use, and a quick search will provide you with a summary of tasks, skills, and knowledge commonly used on the job, as well as personality characteristics and values that lend themselves well to the field.
  • Graduate Follow-up Report: This report provides much of same information provided through these sites, such as job titles within each major, specific employers, and median salary, but it is specific to students who have graduated from UMD! We put this together every year with information from students who have graduated in the last 6 months to 1 year.
  • Assessments: Another potential source of information that will help you determine your major/career are career assessments. There are 3 major ones offered through our office as well as a few you can take for free online. These will provide information on your personality, interests, and skills which you can then match up with compatible fields. Setting up an appointment to discuss your results with a career counselor can provide further clarification.

This might seem like a lot of information to navigate, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different routes determining your career might take. If you find yourself trying to answer the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, my core advice would be to stay open. The inspiration for what direction to head could come from just about anywhere: your hobbies, your dreams as a child, your skillset, your heritage, a class you took, or information you found from a website. I’d encourage you to make this decision based on what you learn from a variety of sources: testimonies from professionals, statistics, and your personal attributes. More than anything, recognize that the answer to the question will never totally be finalized, and that’s part of the beauty of career development.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Mike Tinnion

Finding Your Perfect Minor

By: Sophia

About three weeks ago, I decided to change my minor from Early Childhood Studies to Art History. In my opinion, this was one of the best decisions I have made thus far in my college career. I originally chose my Early Childhood Studies minor based on the facts that it was in the CEHSP collegiate unit and there were a lot of overlapping classes that counted for liberal education credits as well as credits that went directly towards my Psychology major. I also knew I potentially wanted to work with children in a therapeutic setting so this seemed like a good choice at the time. That all changed when I decided to take a Renaissance art class this semester.

Image: looking down at groupings of pens and markers
Text: Finding your perfect minor

I have always had a passion for art, especially Renaissance art, so this class was one that I really wanted to take. I wanted to learn more about the paintings and the painters of that era. I fell in love with this class and had an urge to learn more about the Renaissance and other periods of art. My professor was the one who encouraged me to add on an art history minor because I was doing so well in the class. At this point, I was starting to lose interest in my early childhood studies minor; I was dreading the classes I had to take. I talked some more with my professor and she convinced me to change my minor. I am now looking forward to learning about topics I am interested in and the classes I will be taking. I plan on using my minor to possibly incorporate art therapy into my work.

In my opinion, choosing the right minor is very important. College is a time to explore your interests or learn about something new and a minor is a great opportunity to do that. Most major programs also require a certain amount of elective credits and/or a minor. Whether you are choosing a minor that goes along with your major or a minor for your own interest, it is important to take these tips into consideration:

Do your research
Look at minor program catalogs on the UMD website or talk to your advisor to get an idea of what you are interested in pursuing. Also, talk about the amount of work you will have to put into the minor to make sure you aren’t being overwhelmed. You may only have to do a couple of classes to complete the minor or you may have to complete more.

Think about what you would do with the minor in the future
While you don’t have to choose a minor that relates to your future career, it is important to ponder the possibilities of what you could do with the minor under your belt.

Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests
If you find a minor that is very different from your major, that’s ok. It is always a good idea to learn about new topics and expand your knowledge.

Choosing a minor can be difficult, but if you find something you love, stick with it. Good luck with your minor adventures!

Of Possible Interest:
The Ins and Outs of Minors
What Can I do with My Minor
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts related to majors and minors

Read Sophia’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Greg Rosenke

New Major – What do I do Now?

By: Kendra

I was one of those freshmen who came to UMD thinking I had everything figured out. I was going to come to UMD for Integrated Elementary and Special Education, complete my student teaching as required, and find a job as a special education teacher. I had a plan and I thought for sure that I would stick to that plan. Well, I was wrong. Within the first couple months of school, I knew that special education was not my calling and that I wanted to do something else. After meeting with the career counselors, taking each of the assessments provided by our office, and some soul searching, I decided to switch my major to Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Studies. Now I have my major and minor figured out, but need to figure out what I am going to do with them. Here is how I am going to do that:

Take Classes in Various Fields
While many majors have set courses that one needs to take to earn a degree, there are plenty of majors that have many different classes that one can choose to take to fulfill graduation requirements. Your academic advisor can be helpful in that realm of knowing which classes you absolutely have to take and which areas are more flexible in the courses you choose. If you do have the option to pick and choose which ones you would like to take, do it. Take classes in areas you think you do not like, maybe it will surprise you! Taking a variety of classes also helps you figure out which areas of a certain major interest you so you can tailor your education to what you really want to learn about.

Get Involved
This is something everyone will tell you, but don’t overlook it because it really is huge when it comes to making opportunities for yourself. Being active and involved on campus can be extremely beneficial to getting internships, jobs, scholarships, and it is typically pretty fun! UMD has a club for almost anything, so getting involved in one should not be a hassle. It is also a great idea to get involved in your classes. Ask questions, contribute in class, go see your professor during office hours — only good will come from it! Forming relationships with professors is great because they might need a teaching assistant or research assistant in the future and you will lose out on that opportunity if the instructor doesn’t even know you.

Job Research
Learning about jobs is another great way to explore a new major. Researching is important to learn about what people in different careers do, what they earn, and what sorts of steps they took to get where they currently are. A great way to do this is to do a simple Google search and just see what comes up. This is a good way to find out what sorts of jobs are out there and what those jobs look like. Job postings will show what skills and education are required for the job as well as what the job duties are. Another great resource is the Graduate Follow-up Report. This allows you to see what previous UMD graduates have done with their degrees right after college in specific majors, which can be really helpful when it comes to choosing a career path. Learning more about different careers will help you find ones that you might be interested in. When you have done this, set up job shadows with people in those careers. Job shadowing gives you first hand experience as to what a career is like and will be the best determinant of whether or not you will fit within that career.

If you are like me and don’t really know what you want to do, try these three things. If you need any further help, stop by Career & Internship Services at 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all your blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Joao Silveira

Find Your Fit

By: Kirsi

If you ask a career counselor how to pick the right major, internship, or career path you will likely be directed to assessments. These are quizzes that help you determine your strengths, values, and interests. Career & Internship Services offers online reading about how to seek your fit. But what does it look like once you have found your fit?

Image: Birds sitting on powerlines, one bird flying around
Text: Find your fit

Looks Like
Signs that you have found your fit include that you…

  • lose track of time being absorbed in a project for the class in your major or task at work.
  • experience positive or productive dreams about working on that project or related to your classes or work.
  • follow news and social media about the field you study or work in.
  • feel engaged in your classes or work.
  • imagine yourself in possible roles in your future career.

Doesn’t Look Like
Signs that you have not found your fit include that you…

  • are challenged with starting homework or tasks in your field.
  • dread going to work or classes.
  • wouldn’t consider working on a project or participate in an activity in your field during your free time.
  • find tasks you complete for class or work to be unfulfilling. 
  • avoid thinking about the field you study or work in.

Misconceptions  

  • Finding your fit doesn’t mean you love everything about your classes, work, and field all the time.
  • The potential of the fulfillment your field offers may not be apparent until taking higher level courses, after settling into work, or following further research.
  • Changing your trajectory does not make you a failure! It highlights flexibility and honesty with yourself.

If you ever need help finding your fit, stop by 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

Good Luck! 

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major, Career Planning – all our blog posts on these topics
Boost Your Career in College, Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Danielle MacInnes

Stretching Yourself with a Double Major

By: Rachel

Last semester I separately touched on why you might want to consider a degree in Organizational Management or Writing Studies, but I never talked about why I decided to study both. Here’s a bit of my story and a few tips I have for those of you thinking about or are working towards multiple majors.

I have always had a passion for writing, and taking composition classes in high school made it clear to me this was something I really loved learning about. However, I wasn’t sure writing was a career I wanted to go into. Writing books didn’t really appeal to me, and I knew enough about myself to know I wanted a more predictable occupation.

Image: field of flowers with a single orange poppy flower bloomed. 
Text: Stretching yourself with a double degree.

As I talked to people, a field that kept coming up was grant writing. Oftentimes school districts, non-profits, or even larger corporations will hire grant writers, and I heard there was quite a demand for them. This is more of the structured, professional area of writing that appeals to me.  

I realized grant writing rarely makes up 100% of a person’s job duties — it’s often tied in with other tasks — so I figured it would be wise to gain some additional knowledge in another area. For me this area was business; it was a field I developed an interest in while I was in high school, and I knew the kind of role I would likely find myself in would involve aspects of business administration, human resources, or management. In short, I realized the kind of writing I really want to do is for a business, so rather than specialize in one or the other, I decided to pursue an education in both.  

What I hope you’ll glean from my story is that you hold the power when it comes to your education. Double majoring in two very different fields has allowed me to customize my education in a way no single program ever could. Yes, it has certainly brought challenges, and I’ve realized how critical it is to be your own advocate, but in the end, you are the one who has to take your education to the workplace. Do yourself a favor and make sure it’s one that will help you get where you want to go in life.

If you’re considering doubling up on majors, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way and tips I’ll pass on to you:

  • Prepare to be stretched. Taking on another degree means an additional course load, which obviously presents challenges. If your majors are in very different disciplines (like mine are), it can feel like your brain is being stretched in too many different directions. This isn’t always easy, but it’s important to remember that growth only comes through being stretched. The ability to think in different ways is a skill you will use no matter where you find yourself.
  • Stay organized. The last thing you want to hear is that you aren’t able to graduate because you forgot to fill out some form. Another major means more things to keep track of, especially if you are enrolled in two different schools. Know what the requirements are, and work with advisors to plan out how your programs can work together.
  • Be patient. Along with staying organized, I can bet you’ll run into more than a few snags. I know I have! You might be assigned two different advisors, you might have to run from one department to the other since no one specializes in both your majors together, you might spend weeks trying to submit the correct paperwork to declare your second major, and it might feel like you’re all alone trying to figure this out. To a certain extent, you are. There might not be anyone else trying to do what you are. But, there are people who can help, and with a little patience, things will fall into place. Stay grounded in why you’re doing what you are, and don’t allow little inconveniences to prevent you from building the education you’re really after.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Double Majoring, The Pros & Cons
My Path to a Double Degree
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Raquel Raclette

Top 10 New Blog Posts for 2018

We published over 50 new blog posts during 2018, and there is so much more good content coming your way during 2019. Here’s a look at the top ten blog posts (based purely on the numbers) published in 2018.

wood desk top with mac laptop, cup of coffee, and notebook. Text: top new blog posts of 2018

Brutal Honesty
Advantages of Being a Peer Educator
Major Exploration: Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE)
STEM Major Preps for UMN Job Fair
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 2 Socially Relocating
Career Planning Process: Explore Options
How to Make the Most of Winter Break as a Senior
Tori’s Senior Bucket List
Professional Clothes on a Budget
How to Dress for the Job Title You Want

Photo Source: Unsplash | rawpixel