BY Kiana Malt
Prior to going into my second year of University I was approached by Sheila Cassidy, Director of the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC), regarding an ambassador position at St Francis Xavier University (StFX). When I received her message, I was unsure what I would be getting myself into - I knew absolutely nothing about sales, but I had nothing to lose so I gave it a shot. Little did I know, just how much I had to gain from taking on this opportunity! I took the call with Sheila and quickly realized there was a huge networking opportunity that the GCSC would offer my fellow students and I. After our conversation I was extended the position of Team Lead Ambassador for the GCSC at StFX and recruited two of my friends, Laura Pichette, a third year student completing an advanced major in entrepreneurship, and Meghan MacDonald, who graduated with a major in Leadership and Management to work alongside me.
As an ambassador I had the opportunity to learn about sales as a career and skill set and familiarized myself with our 25 incredible sponsors. I also had the opportunity to meet and network with students on my campus from various societies, faculties and residences. I learnt so much about the GCSC and decided to enter as a contestant. I was then featured on their website homepage and made it to the semi-final round where I learned about, pitched, and connected with one of our sponsors, Grand & Toy. Ultimately our StFX ambassador team attained 300% to our student submission quota and received the 2nd highest amount of submissions out of 70 university and college campuses across Canada. Looking back I had so much fun and learned a lot about sales, but what truly made this opportunity stand out was that I landed not one, but two great jobs out of it.
In December of 2015, I spent hours editing my resume, writing cover letters, filling out applications and making phone calls to employers. All with no luck. By March I was getting very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find a co-op placement. When almost all hope was lost, I secured a placement as a Customer Service Representative with one of GCSC’s sponsors, Scotiabank. And then I received a call from Sheila offering me a position as the Regional Manager of Eastern Canada for the GCSC. It became very evident that making key connections and walking through doors that open for you, are the things that will set you apart in the candidate pool - not your cover letter.
As a Regional Manager for the GCSC I have been provided with the opportunity to work on different projects every single day, travel to different cities and campuses and I have learned from top sales professionals at Sales Talent Agency. I am currently managing 17 ambassador teams and it is my responsibility to provide them with the support and resources they need to reach their goals. I have been able to effectively motivate my ambassadors, but I have also learned how to be self-motivated. I work from home and I am able to stay organized, prioritize my tasks, and get everything done as efficiently and as effectively as possible. This has been a great experience that will no doubt propel me forward as I enter my 3rd co-op position.
The list of what I have gained by accepting the ambassador position and by entering the GCSC is endless. I continue to learn and grow every single day as Regional Manager. I met with my previous co-worker, Meghan MacDonald, at StFX homecoming, and learnt that she is as thankful to the GCSC as I am for the skills and knowledge we have gained. We discussed how the GCSC has positively influenced both of our lives. Meagan said: “Every day I'm reaching out to potential Affinio customers, sharing with them how incredible our platform is and how it could benefit them and their teams. I never saw myself in sales, but when the opportunity knocked, I couldn't say no. The Great Canadian Sales competition taught me that being on the sales side of things takes perseverance and confidence - confidence in what it is your pitching and confidence in yourself. This side of the business world can be a total roller coaster with highs and lows. I'm grateful to the Great Canadian Sales Competition for giving me the opportunity to dip my toes into a career option I'm now extremely passionate about.”
When I was applying to jobs the traditional way I made zero traction; when I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something new and frankly a little scary, I had so many doors open for me. I challenge any student reading this article to think about what they have done that is a little outside of their comfort zone. If you’re struggling to find an answer I highly encourage you to enter a pitch for The Great Canadian Sales Competition this second. Don’t wait. There’s no time but the present to stand out.
If you are a student and would like to know more about the GCSC and the places it could take you, please visit www.greatcanadiansalescompetition.com.