After graduating in June 2011 with a degree in professional writing and communications from the University of Toronto, while working part-time as a barista and a freelance writer, Mary Dytyniak landed her Sales Support position at Staples’ corporate office in March 2012, through a referral.
The job wasn’t hers right off the bat, though – the hiring process took about a month and included three interviews.
Now that she’s settled into her new job, Mary says she believes Staples hired her because she had:
- A bachelor’s degree
- A commitment to work long-term at at the company
- In-depth answers to interview questions
- Confidence during the interview process
So, what does a Sales Support professional do?
“I thought it’d be a boring desk job,” Mary says. However, it turns out that the job involves more interaction with people than she expected.“I actually enjoy the job,” she says, adding that she was surprised at the amount of creativity involved in her work.
Each morning, Mary starts her day with tea. Knowing Mary for a couple of years now, morning tea is no surprise.
Mary then organizes her tasks for the day. She does sales support for three teams of 10 Sales Representatives. Because Sales Reps at Staples work various hours, Mary has to catch up on unread emails, flag important items and check the needs of current projects.
These are some of the other things she gets to work on:
- Running sales reports (includes data manipulation and formatting)
- Preparing samples for customers
- Organizing mail-outs (flyers, catalogues, samples, etc.)
- Stocking the “Marketing Wall” (promotional materials that Sales Reps use)
- Answering any questions Sales Reps may have or redirecting them to the appropriate department
- Creating announcements and messages for the “Electronic Message Board” (an internal website for employees only)
- Helping organize sales events
Mary also told me about “win memos.” Win memos are internal forms of encouragement and recognition. They share a Sales Rep’s story of how she or he won an account and tips to help other Sales Reps improve their sales. Mary edits and proofreads the stories, formats them and sends them out internally.
What’s the best thing about working at Staples? I asked her. “The friendly atmosphere,” Mary says. Her boss introduced her to all the departments and everyone warmed up to her easily. She says her co-workers feel like a small community and if she doesn’t know something, she knows her colleagues are there to help.
Mary also likes not having shift work anymore – her hours are steady. However, like many recent grads, she’s still not a huge fan of waking up early.
Mary’s advice for students and recent grads
When it comes to internships, Mary recommends exercising caution. Ask the employer if the company is looking to hire afterwards. Speaking from personal experience and hearing of many stories, Mary says some companies are just taking advantage of students and recent grads. “But don’t expect to get hired right away after an internship in your field [either],” Mary warns.
When looking for a job, “Leverage your resources,” she says. “Talk to family, friends, professors.” Having a friend help Mary land her Sales Support job is something she’s thankful for.