How I got my first job in sales

I got into the sales game later than most. I started in my mid 30’s, I’m now 45. So unlike many other sales people my first job out of school wasn’t a sales job. My first actual job was working in hospitality. Clearing tables at bars and restaurants, working as a bartender, making cocktails at a 5-star hotel lobby bar. Eventually I decided I wanted a change of career. Hospitality wasn’t a long-term career goal for me. Mainly because I wanted to be on the other side of the bar having fun with friends, drinking cocktails and enjoying myself. I was over the hospitality industry.

So i decided to enroll in a short course and gain an IT certification. After a few months I started a job as a computer technician. My job was to fix computers. Take them apart, replace parts, load operating systems, diagnose problems, remove viruses and stuff like that. This role eventually led to a few different helpdesk positions. I was part of a small team and we would take calls from users that are experiencing problems with their computer. Maybe they were having trouble logging in, or there was some sort of error message on screen, or they needed access to a particular file or folder, stuff like that. 

It became quite monotonous and not very interesting after a few years. I had a good paycheck and good job security but I started to lose interest. I also didn’t really like the people I was working with. The culture and the environment wasn’t very satisfying. I just felt like I didn’t fit in.

I began to daydream a lot, mainly about travelling and visiting different places. This led me to  start thinking about a career in the travel industry. 

Then in 2009 when the global financial crisis hit I was let go from my helpdesk job and found myself wondering what to do next. At the time my housemate worked in human resources and she told me about a program that the local government had initiated where they would pay for you to undergo a short course to gain a qualification in order to get a job. So I started making inquiries with various business colleges and I found a travel & tourism course that I liked. I began that about a month later. 

The class was very small, about 4 people. Our trainer was a seasoned travel industry professional. She’d worked for various travel agencies and knew a lot about the travel industry. So this went for about 6 months and at the end, with the help from my trainer, I applied for a job at STA Travel. I was invited to a group interview with other candidates and after a second round of interviews I was given the job. I was VERY excited! And also very nervous. This would be my FIRST job in sales. Before this I’d had no formal sales training or on-the-job sales training. None at all. The travel course provided me with a qualification but there was no sales training included. 

I also didn’t have any friends that worked in sales, or read any sales training books or listened to any podcasts or anything like that. I had absolutely no experience at all working in a sales environment.

Leave a comment