My First Year
Following is an interview with former Kellogg interns Leah Deboe and Joshua Tari, celebrating their first year as sales representatives with our company in June 2019.
One year out of college; one year into your first professional job. This significant transition is a time of tremendous learning and personal growth. To understand more about this phase, we talked with Joshua and Leah about their first year at Kellogg.
YOU BOTH INTERNED WITH KELLOGG BEFORE ACCEPTING FULL-TIME ROLES. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE STILL IN COLLEGE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
Joshua: Don’t be afraid to take risks. I’m a southern-California person and never expected to do an internship in Michigan. Fortunately, I got some great advice from a couple of my college mentors who encouraged me to take the leap. As they pointed out, the worst thing that could happen is that I didn’t enjoy the experience, and even then I’d have learned something. This early in our careers, there is no reason to be afraid that we’ll make mistakes. No matter what happens, we’re learning and growing.
Leah: I’d build on what Joshua said and add that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. You can share and even implement your ideas even in your very first professional role. I suggested that our Atlanta sales team come together to perform monthly community service around our Breakfasts for Better Days™ global cause. Today, we’re doing just that. I learned quickly that – at least at Kellogg – my voice matters.
YOU’RE BOTH SALES REPRESENTATIVE SELLING THE COMPANY’S MORNING FOODS AND SNACKS BRANDS. IS THIS HOW YOU ENVISIONED STARTING YOUR CAREERS?
Leah: I graduated with a degree in public relations and eventually see myself working in government relations. But I always knew I wanted to understand how the business works before moving into a support function. Sales gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.
Joshua: Similar to Leah, I’m ultimately interested in marketing and think sales is the right place to start. Before I can help build our brands and create demand with consumers, I want to understand what it takes to meet our customers’ expectations. If we don’t get our foods on store shelves, we can’t sell them to people around the world.
ONE YEAR INTO YOUR FULL-TIME CAREER ROLES, WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
Joshua: At first, it was hard hearing “no,” when I’m trying to make a sale. Now, I understand that it’s just part of the role. Even though Kellogg is a huge center-store player, sometimes what I’m offering just isn’t the right solution for the customer today. The “no” isn’t personal. It’s just part of building a long-term partnership that best meets our customers’ needs.
Leah: I have five or six meetings with customers every day and see a lot of different personalities. Sometimes people are busy and don’t have a lot of time to talk. My communications skills have really come in handy in this role. Now I can tailor my conversation to each specific situation and am far more confident in my approach.
AND WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING THE MOST ABOUT YOUR KELLOGG CAREERS?
Viveca: Sales is a very independent career. I’m responsible for my San Jose, CA territory and don’t have an office or local co-workers. My manager is terrific. She sets the goals and provides the tools, then allows me to own my business and find solutions in my unique and creative way. Of course, she is always there to support me, if I have questions. I like that!
Joshua: I really wanted to challenge myself in my first career role and I’m learning something every day. I know that everything won’t come easy. When I face challenges, how I overcome them and push through is key. I’ve quickly learned in sales that the best short-term solution is often to build a long-term partnership. Establishing trust and creating these relationships has been very rewarding.