If you are currently in college and if you know that you want a career in sales once you graduate, NOW is the time to get the valuable sales experience that will help you land your first (real) sales job out of college.
A college degree alone will not make you stand out against the others who have sales experience. Get a competitive advantage and take the initiative to gain the much needed experience while you are in school. While you are in college, it is also the best time to learn, make mistakes and sharpen your sales skills. There are many opportunities for you to gain this experience and don't procrastinate, because once you graduate, you could be holding yourself back if you don't have any experience under your belt. As a hiring sales manager myself, when I interview recent college graduates, the interview goes much better when the person has some experience. The conversation is better and examples can be given, versus depending on conceptually trying to tell how well you would sell. So how can you do this? Well read on...
GET A PART TIME JOB
Getting a college degree is one part of the battle, to get a head start over your other competitors, by having solid sales experience, you will set yourself apart from the other candidates. When I was in college, I worked for the college newspaper and gain experience in outside sales by selling ad space. The time commitment was flexible and most employers that is willing to take on a part time college student understands the priorities of the student, so be sure to manage your time well. You don't want to fall behind on your studies, so plan accordingly and make it happen. Other opportunities include, retail sales, auto sales, commission based sales and the list goes on. Take a look at these opportunities here ->> Current College Student Sales Jobs. Be creative in your search online. If there are local businesses that have sales reps, drop in and ask about selling part time.
ITS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY...YET!
Remember, the most valuable thing you are looking for here is the sales experience. Money will come later, in my case, I made enough to pay for my food and rent during college from my sales pay. Focus more on gaining the experience and to have something to put on your resume other than, burger flipper, house chores and oh yeah, a college degree (which everyone almost have).
If you happen to go to school in a town that has a large corporate home office, seek to do an internship and shadow the sales team such as sales training, sales management, sales operations and even marketing. You probably won't get paid, but you will gain some great contacts, possible references (if you do a good job), and exposure to the corporate sales career. Test out large companies and try out some start-ups, trust me start-ups will be very willing to take on an errand person, I mean intern. I did an internship and I still use my experience there to this day 18 years later as i learned valuable foundational business skills in doing so.
JOIN A CLUB
Some colleges have a sales club or american marketing association student chapter. The best you could do while in college is to join Pi Sigma Epsilon,
Pi Sigma Epsilon is the only national, co-ed, professional fraternal organization in sales, marketing, and management
The experience was excellent and I also made lifelong friends. I will write more about my experience with PSE in a later post, but I highly recommend visiting the PSE website to find out if there is a chapter at your school, who knows you might be the person who starts it at your school, now thats leadership. Visit: Pi Sigma Epsilon (by the way, I was part of Upsilon Chapter, look it up to find out which school).
TAKE A SALES CLASS
These are rare, as most business classes focus on finance, economics and marketing but the main revenue machine is not usually offered at colleges. Some do (the good ones)! So if yours have classes, take one. If not, (tough), actually why not seek out a sales coach or sales trainer and take a class or hire them to coach you. It might cost you some money (beer & pizza money) but it is well worth it and if you were sitting in front of me for an interview and told me you did this, I would be impressed and know that I am sitting in front of a person who is serious about a career in sales. Show, don't tell.
ok, I think I shared some good ones here, now if I missed any, please add a comment so that other non-experienced sales wanna-bees can gain some much needed sales experience. Good luck and enjoy the journey.