ALLIANCE, Ohio — Continuing to find new ways to provide experiential learning to students, Mark McConnell, associate professor of marketing at the University of Mount Union, developed the Fall 2020 Sales Symposium with the help of a dozen sales professionals.
The symposium provided a way for students in McConnell’s Personal Selling course to virtually interact with industry professionals and ask questions about their careers. Six of the participants were Mount Union alumni, which provided a personal experience with which the students could relate.
Adam Hood ’12, president of Perfect Power Wash in Norton, Ohio, was involved in 11 different student organizations during his undergraduate career at Mount Union. He believes that a combination of all of those experiences, along with in-class learning, has helped him be a better leader.
“I would say that when I’m building a sales team, I’m looking for good communicators,” Hood said. “The other side that I look for is the ability to solve problems. The ability to solve problems is at the core of what sales is to provide the proper solution for the customer.”
Austin Eppstein ’15, senior sales team leader at cyber artificial intelligence company Darktrace, took a nontraditional path to where he is today, and he shared a piece of evergreen advice for students seeking careers in any field.
“One of my best pieces of advice is to constantly be teachable so that you can learn, adapt and have the knowledge to grow and see what resonates with others,” Eppstein said.
The students benefitted from the personalized 45-minute Q-and-A sessions with the professionals, who represented Slack, Google, Facebook and the aforementioned organizations, to name a few.
“This class has helped me realize that I could see myself being in roles such as theirs in the future, so I’m excited to learn more about sales,” said Ian Smith ’23, a finance and marketing double major of Cambridge, Ohio.
“This gave me helpful insight on what a successful salesperson practices to be successful,” said Dominic Zappa ’21, a finance and marketing double major of Amherst, Ohio.
According to McConnell, the sales symposium was a “silver lining” of the global pandemic cloud of 2020. “The virtual meeting format allowed us to secure guests from all over the country. The effort was far more successful as a result of embracing virtual conferencing,” he added.