Professional sales major solidifies career path with summer internship
From classroom to internship to job opportunity.
It’s a script for Commonwealth University’s Professional U promise, and a path Celeste Rivas is well on her way to complete. The senior Bloomsburg professional sales and marketing major capped a busy and productive junior year with a 10-week summer internship with Benco Dental, one of the nation's largest dental distributors.
Rivas was among 10 interns spanning the country — including students representing such universities as Clemson, Kansas State, Mississippi, Purdue, and San Diego State — to be selected for Benco’s Sales Intern Academy.
“What attracted me to (this) opportunity was listening to Katy Cohen, chief revenue officer at Benco, speak so highly of the company in one of my classes she was invited to,” said Rivas, an Act 101 Emerging Scholar who’s also pursuing a minor in Spanish. “This was my preferred internship option, because after hearing every opinion that employees had on how family-oriented the company is; and when I did my own research, I could see this company was perfect to start part of my career.”
Rivas was able to get true real-world sales experience.
“One of the things we had to do was to call several dentist offices to promote and try to sell three wonderful products — Variosonic Power Toothbrush, Pro-Sys Jetfloss Go, and Pro-Sys Whitening Strips,” Rivas said. “We also had the opportunity to participate in the Annual Region Meeting. In the same way, I could go and see the work of the different departments. That helped me to understand what it costs to have a dentist's office.”
According to Rivas, Bloomsburg’s professional sales and marketing program firmly prepared her for Benco’s fast-paced internship. And it didn’t take long for Rivas to see her prior experience with sales competitions play a key role in her ability in adjusting to a real-world sales environment.
“I had a clearer idea of what I was doing,” Rivas said. “There are universities that are more concerned with teaching the theory, but Bloomsburg teaches you the theory and helps you to have experience or an idea of how a job functions.”
She added, “I’ve learned to not take the ‘No’ too personally, but to see it as an opportunity to move forward to get the ‘Yes.’ I also learned to talk less and listen more. Many salespeople focus too much on selling their product, because it’s ‘the best in the world,’ but they don't take the time to listen to their customers and what they really need in their company.”
Staying true to its reputation, Benco’s family-like environment was evident from day one. Rivas said a big highlight to her experience was the regular assistance and career advice she received.
“I was surprised how everyone took at least 15 minutes out of their week to talk to me,” Rivas said of Benco’s Icebreaker program. “This program matches you with an employee from any department, and you have the option to write or call that person.”
Rivas added, “This helps all the employees get to know each other, and I liked being part of that experience. I was amazed how you can have a conversation with the owners of the company and see how they care to know each person who works for them. Benco helped me grow personally and professionally, and I can't wait to graduate and see how I continue to grow professionally with the skills I learned from them and my professors.”