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|In the Spotlight: 30 Days of Thanks|
Helen Brown, Academic Outreach Manager at Vector, shares her career journey, career advice and thoughts about MPACE and gratitude during a Q&A session
Tell us a bit about Vector.
Vector is the direct sales arm that markets Cutco Cutlery. We love that we meet with customers face-to-face and show them Cutco, the number one kitchen cutlery that is US made. (Oh, and just about all of us started out as sales reps!) Many of our reps are students that are working their way through college. While our main goal is to sell Cutco, we have a training and retention program that focuses on personal and professional development. We want to help shape the leaders of tomorrow.
Please share an overview of your career journey at Vector.
I started with Vector as a college student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1991. I sold during the summers and on my breaks. After graduation, I stayed on as a career sales rep. I later became a District Manager with Vector. When the campus recruiting department was developed, I moved into a role as the Campus Recruiting Manager for the Northeast area of the US. Now, as the Academic Outreach Manager I support our Western managers in on-campus recruiting, develop strategic partnerships nationally, and oversee all areas of our academic partnerships.
In your experience, what have you found to be the most rewarding and challenging thing about working in University Recruiting?
We come across a lot of students who don’t see the value in getting sales experience and who don’t think they will be any good at sales. It’s SO rewarding when those students see success and we can watch them grow.
This month’s MPACE communication theme is “30 days of Thanks”, focusing on gratitude. As a recruiter, what are your thoughts about thank you letters?
Times are changing and we live in a world of instant gratification. I think immediate follow-up with a thank you e-mail is good. But to me, a standout candidate sends a handwritten thank you note. I love thank you notes.
Along with the challenges are people who make our lives easier. Which departments/individuals/organizations are you especially grateful for?
Career centers are a crucial partner for recruiters on campus. We have found that it’s a challenge for people to understand the direct selling industry because it’s so different from traditional work. When career centers support us on campus, we have the opportunity to educate students on a new industry, whether they are looking for work or not. The partnership with the career center that makes that contact with the student possible is invaluable.
One of the best things about an organization like MPACE is the ability for colleges and universities to network and connect with employers; how do you think MPACE could further support this opportunity for employers?
Network, network, network! Of course the annual conference has a huge focus of networking and getting people together, but that’s only once a year. Anything that MPACE can do to encourage recruiters and career centers to get together year round is extremely valuable. Distance and budgets are often a challenge. I live on the east coast but I support our managers out west. Plus, MPACE covers a large portion of the US. Anything that MPACE can do to facilitate members making connections virtually would be really valuable.
If there was one thing that you wished every college graduate knew before they entered the professional world, what would it be?
Keep an open mind to where your next (or first) opportunity may come from. Saying yes to summer work selling knives led me to 25 years and counting in a career that I never could have imagined. While not everyone makes a career out of “the knife thing,” many of our people have used it as a stepping-stone of skill building and networking that helps them to fulfill their dreams. You just never know what opportunity is on the other side of the door and where your journey will lead you.
Lastly, what are you most grateful for this year?
For many reasons, health has been on the forefront of my mind for the past several years. At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m so thankful for time with my friends, my family, and for my continued good health.
Helen Brown is the Academic Outreach Manager at Vector Marketing. She can be reached at Hbrown@cutco.com. You can also find her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/helenabrown
This Spotlight article was compiled by Neepa Parikh of the MPACE Communications Committee. Neepa is the Director in the Office of Career Planning at Golden Gate University - https://www.linkedin.com/in/neepaparikh