I grew up in the small town of Essexville, Michigan. I am the youngest of six children. My parents started their family young, as my mom and dad were only 15 and 17 respectively. Since they were so young when they started their family, neither of them were able to finish high school because they were focused on raising me and my siblings. Education was not their first priority. My parents minimal educational background set the goals for my siblings and I particularly low. While growing up, my parents showed us a lot of love. Their goals for us, like many parents, included making sure that we were more successful than they had been. Everyone in my family graduated from high school, just as my parents wanted. The only problem with this was that going to college was never expected, so none of us ever considered continuing our education after high school. Instead, our parents planned on us working a factory job and starting a family after high school.
After graduating from high school, I followed through with my parents plan. My first job was working in a graphite machine shop. It didn't take long for me to despise working there. I was covered from head to toe with graphite each day. The job was also monotonous because I spent all day putting 14 inch graphite rods into a machine to make parts. It was mind numbing because it was purely manual labor. Soon after starting the job, I knew that I did not want a manual job for the rest of my life. Part of the issue was that I did not feel as if I was making a difference or contributing anything particularly grand to the world. I knew I was not reaching my full potential. However, since I had limited job experience and was able to make a living, I stayed there for almost three years, while continuing to work hard and save as much as possible. During my time at this job, the determination to make a better life for myself began. Although I did not yet wish I had chosen the path of higher education over the working life, I desired finding a job that I felt passionate about. Eventually, my strong work ethic and continuous desire to push myself at the graphite machine shop paid off. In the course of professional presence, one of the course outcomes is to introduce students to techniques and concepts of professionalism as well as long life career. It is evident from this that as early as my first job after high school, I appreciated professionalism and lifelong learning as key to securing employment opportunities. In addition, I had realized earlier on that in order to make a valuable contribution to the world in whatever I do, I needed to change my job.
Given that I was not contended in my first job and that I needed to look for a job which satisfy me, I had employed various strategies to find other opportunities. One of this strategy was to share my desire to change job with my older brother. My brother promised to inform me once he finds an opportunity. After three years of working there, I got a call from my older brother, who had moved to the west side of Michigan and was working as a salesperson for a vending company called A.D. Bo's Vending. He informed me that the company was looking for another salesperson and he recommended me to his boss. After interviewing and being offered the position, I decided this was a chance to finally get out of my small hometown and do something different with my life. My previous job had nothing to do with sales. To pass the interview, I had to prepare well as part of enhancing my professional presence. I had to sell myself to the interviewer in a way he was to find me as a suitable candidate by exhibiting desired professional behavior and communication skills of a salesperson. My preparation worked and I was given the job.
This was my first professional job and I could not have been more excited. I began to learn about sales, customer service, and how to act professionally. Sales is a component of marketing. In this module, marketing management involves things which I learned and practiced while working as a salesperson. The job gave me a chance to not only learn but also employ elements of marketing mix. My official title was Route Salesman. My job responsibilities included merchandising, product delivery, cash handling, food and safety sanitation, inventory, sales, and customer service. In addition, I also learned about how the companys product went from ordering, to the warehouse, and finally to the customer. As a salesperson, I could not succeed without having a thorough understanding of things like product, promotion, price, and distribution. Sales job was a great experience because I saw how a company ran on a multitude of levels, including management, maintenance, HR, sales, and so forth. There were many responsibilities in this position because it was a small, but growing company. By working in a variety of departments, I gained more from the job than I would have if I was simply performing one task every day. I learned how to multitask, manage my time effectively, place priority over more important tasks, and adjust to quickly learning new things.
Although I had many different roles, the days of sales were the ones that I enjoyed the most. I decided I would learn as much information about the sales field as I could. I began this process by reading as many sales books as possible, from Zig Ziglar to Dale Carnegie. Then, I applied this newfound knowledge in the field. As my knowledge grew with sales, so too did my passion for it. I found learning and applying very interesting. I learned what works and what does not work. I gained a firsthand experience by putting theory to work. This theory was largely drawn from the larger subject of marketing management which not only include concepts but also principles of marketing analysis as well as implementation of marketing strategies. I learned and employed marketing analysis tools such as SWOT, PESTEL, porters Five Forces Model, VRIO, and so forth. These are some of the marketing analysis tools which are to be covered in the marketing management course.
Just like in the case of my previous job, I have realized that one of the ways of looking for employment opportunities is to create a network of friends who can update me on various opportunities. These networks are people who are also aware of my career aspirations. After two and a half years of working and saving money, I was approached with an opportunity from a friend to become a loan officer at a mortgage company called Common Point Mortgage. The only problem with this opportunity was that it was a 100% commission job. I wrestled over the decision for a week and finally decided if I wanted more out of a job, then I had to be willing to take the risk. I decided to accept the position. On top of this very anxious time in my professional career, I also met a woman who I quickly fell in love with and would marry three years later. I knew changing jobs as often as possible was good for me in the long run. I had no strong academic background and the only way to acquire skills was by changing jobs. My career plan strategy was to change jobs often and learn on-the-job. With more skills and experience, I knew my marketability would increase. Joining Common Point Mortgage was therefore another opportunity to enhance my skills.
At Common Point Mortgage, I had to wear a suit and tie every day and did not have to worry about getting dirty. My first few weeks were spent getting my real estate license, so I could gain a better understanding of the product I was about to sell. One of the most important skill I learned in previous sales jobs and readings was that a salesman need to know the product well. Once I was out of class, my official title was Loan Officer. I began to take incoming sales calls for purchases and refinances. During the selling phase, I learned it is not about what you want to sell; it is about what the customer needs. Therefore, I changed my sales approach to reflect that motto. I also learned important facts about customer service, such as how to take care of a customer after the sale and beyond. Concepts and principles of marketing management in the job centered on the product and the customer. Further, working as a loan officer mean I had to know a bit of business law. In the class and further readings, I learned a lot about business law especially contract law and tort. Loans involved establishment of contractual obligations between our customers and our company. There was no way I could execute valid contracts without learning the basics of business law. Success in learning and applying knowledge in my previous jobs reinforced my idea that to survive I had to appreciate life long career development.
Additionally, I was fortunate enough to befriend Brian, one of the top producers for the company. From then on, he acted as a mentor to me. Brian challenged me daily to strive for my best and encouraged me to help other associates. It was here, through helping my co-workers, that I found another passion: management. My passion stemmed from working with people, watching them grow, and ultimately seeing them become successful. I quickly learned that if the people I managed were successful, then so was I. I enjoyed being able to mentor someone with little experience or minimal related skills to the position and guiding them to becoming a top producer. In my previous jobs, I had limited exposure to working in a team setting. There was a lot to learn about team dynamics at Common Point Mortgage.
Best performing teams and individuals were rewarded in our company. After a relatively short period of time, the owner of the company noticed our improvements with the sales staff and soon promoted both of us to team leaders. As a team leader, I got an opportunity to learn about group behavior. In an organizational setting, not all people have the same attitude and views regarding various aspects. My team comprised members from diverse backgrounds and cultural diversity played a key role in influencing how our team conducted its affairs. As a leader, I had to understand well my team members. I need to know what makes teams successful and what makes them fail. Again, I had to learn much from management books. Some of the favorite topics include team dynamics and conflict management. My team was successful and we were recognized by the company because of meeting our goals. Some of the things which I learned in books and which helped become a successful team leader include motivation of my team members, being fair to everyone, giving effective feedback, effective handling of conflicts, and encouraging everyone to contribute during decision making processes.
I discovered that although there were many positive aspects to management, there were also several downsides. The largest issue was that everyone had different motivating factors and personalities. I realized it was best to cater to each separate person for the best chance of success. It was my duty to find out what motivated everyone, so I could help them meet their goals, as well as that of the company. This worked as I had learned from management books. While leading my team, I also found out that different situations required different leadership style. As a result, I adopted a situational leadership style. There was occasions when I needed to employ charismatic leadership while there was also times where visionary leadership was necessary.
I joined the company when business was going well in the mortgage sector. This was during the first mortgage boom of the 1990s. When I was hired, there were only 10 employees. By 1995, the company had grown to 300 employees and 30 offices within a four and a half year span. During this time, I was promoted to being a team leader of 10 people, next to sales manager of 30, then district mana...
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