When I switched my major from psychology to marketing in my 3rd year at UF, I felt very behind in comparison to other business students. While other students already had built their resumes with study abroad experiences, leadership positions, and previous internships, I was just getting familiar with the business school. Thus, landing the right opportunities was very important for me to gain a variety of skills and experience.
Joining an outsourced sales team as a sales development representative was a pivotal moment in my undergraduate career. This sales team (1) offered real, professional-level work experience to students, (2) prepared me to sell myself in the job market, and (3) genuinely supported my success beyond the company. Thanks to the company and its people, I was able to continue building my career post-graduation at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Keep reading to discover how students like me benefited from the internship as a sales development representative.
How to Gain Real-World Experience
Selling may sound intimidating, especially if one associates sales with pushing others to sell products. I, too, first felt intimidated by the idea of selling. However, being a sales development representative in college prepares students to sell through comprehensive training. As a student who also went through this training, I learned that selling is not being forceful but it is about helping people to find solutions to their problems. Also, the training is very engaging and helpful. The SDR (sales development representative) team and I engaged in conversations about the sales process and role-playing conversations with clients. After completing the training, I felt very confident to put my learning into action.
After the training was over, I reached out to 100+ prospects to generate leads who may be interested in an online, sales training course. While testing the market strategy created together by the SDR team, I switched my operation hours from mornings to evenings and weekends, as these times better suited the target customers. As a result, I was able to hold more conversations and product demonstrations with prospects. Through this role, I studied and directly engaged with customers, which has prepared me to confidently engage with clients, co-workers, and executive members in the future.
How to Sell Oneself to the Job Recruiters
Many big companies prefer previous intern experience from students when they look for ideal candidates. An internship as a sales development representative makes students more competitive. In addition, the sales process strategies acquired benefit students by promoting themselves in the job market whether or not pursuing a career in sales.
During my job-seeking process, I applied transferable skills from my sales internship. For instance, I refined my sales pitch to briefly introduce myself to job recruiters at career fairs. I highlighted my previous work experience and why I would be interested in working for the company. In my cover letter, I showcased the features and benefits as I would for a product. I listed out the features of myself such as working in group projects and taking a leadership position on campus and then, demonstrated how these features will benefit the employer.
As a student who successfully finished the job-search process and secured a full-time position, I found that listening skills were essential for making a good impression at interviews. As a sales development representative, I learned that listening skills consist of asking thought-provoking questions and to listen to the other person. At interviews, I asked open-ended questions and jotted down notes to ask the employer towards the end of the interview. This resulted in deeper, meaningful conversations between the interviewer and me. Also, this projected that I was highly interested in working for the company, which is key to having successful interviews.
How to Support College Student Success
The best sales development representative internships embrace turnover supporting students’ success beyond the students’ time at the internship.
First, working 10-15 hours per week enrolled full-time in university do not distract students from focusing on their studies and benefit them to gain valuable work experience. During the fall semester, I worked on an SEO (search engine optimization) project. From this project, I navigated through SEO tools to drive traffic to the company’s website, which I have never explored in-depth before. The number of work hours also prevented me from burnout and even motivated me to give my best within that limited time.
More importantly, my internship presents students with further career development opportunities. When I was actively seeking a full-time position, The sales leadership team introduced me to a job posting at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, which led to landing an interview with the company. My supervisor gave me interview tips such as looking up the interviewers on LinkedIn. All these tips amounted to securing the full-time position. It is hard to find an internship that supports its employees, especially college students, and their long-term success. More than a company that offers internships to students, it is essential to find a place for lifetime growth.
If a fellow student were looking for an internship, I would highly recommend being a sales development representative, especially at The Selling Factory. Here, students can gain real work experience, acquire lifelong sales strategies, and feel supported in their success. It is a wonderful place to grow and begin building an undergraduate career. As a student who benefitted so much from this company, I hope other students also seek and achieve professional growth through an opportunity as an SDR.