Hundreds of college grads are fighting hard for a job this weekend. More than 61 colleges from all over the nation, including Canada, have sent their highest-performing students to compete at the National Collegiate Sales Competition.
"The competition is fierce, which is great and once we get here we do our best to present ourselves in the best light and really network as best we can," said Shelton Krantz, a Kennesaw State University senior.
Terry Loe, the director for the Center of Professional Selling at KSU, launched the competition back in 1999. He said less than 10 colleges attended that first event. The next year, all those schools came back and more schools started joining in. They have seen a steady increase in interest every year.
"We set up a partner program that allowed the companies to come in and interview and have a career fair and also participate in the event," Loe said. "So everybody really wins."
Here's how it works. The students are granted a hypothetical sales meeting and they pretend to be an employee of Netsuite, a real-life web-based software application for customer relationship management. They have 20 minutes to present their product to a prospective buyer. They are being recorded and graded by a panel of judges who rate them on a number of factors such as identification, approach and communication skills.
"We're selling to a potential client so the buyers are briefed on the scenario. I walk in just as confidently as possible knowing I'm prepared well and I will do well," said Jessica Piazza, a KSU student. "It definitely helps you understand who you are and what your abilities are. I have really been able to hone in on exactly where my strong suits are. I can figure out what exact industries I want to go in to."
And even better than the experience for some, more than 70 percent of the students attending this weekend are expected to get jobs. During the competition, about 40 companies are at a job fair on campus. Companies such as Groupon, FedEx and State Farm are hiring.
Ben Hertzman and Phillip Hutton said it was worth the trip from Queens University in Ontario.
"Many firms will come to the NCSC specifically looking to recruit the competitors," Hertzman said.
Hertzman and Hutton have been practicing and preparing for the competition for months, not unlike their peers.
"When you're in that environment, it’s really a thrill," Hutton said. "You're given the opportunity to see how much you have learned has actually been internalized so you can recall it at a moments notice."