By Jessica Gibson
In 2014 I graduated from Ohio State with a few degrees, a few honors, and a 5-year plan. Looking back, I can honestly say I took the road most traveled. I was reasonably successful in high school, graduated, and got into a good college. Then, I found something in which I was genuinely interested, chased down the diploma, and lined up a job out of school.
But I quickly learned my first career path just wasn’t the right fit. I spent the next several years trying to find something to make a reliable income and also enjoy my job. I worked as a bartender. I helped design and open new restaurant concepts in which I experienced roles in accounting, management, inventory, HR, and maintenance.
I also was usually working on a side project to explore other parts of my skillset: photography, part-time counseling, and logistics, among others. I always worked 60 hours a week and enjoyed filling my resume in search of my ideal career.
“So, I took the job. It has been 18 months of learning one thing new every day and finding new, creative ways to solve problems. I have found a home with this company, which means more to me than any paycheck.”
I found all of my side jobs had two things in common that I enjoyed: customer service and constant change. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to map out my ideal, long-term career.
Finding Another Career Path
I wanted to find something more fulfilling to create learning and advancement opportunities. I acknowledged none of the owners for whom I worked offered employee health insurance or financial investments, such as a 401K. Instead of a specific industry, I told myself I was going out in search of a few essential qualities to define the job itself.
- Opportunity to grow and progress within the company
- Material to learn and experiences to gain
- New experiences every day
- A place where morals are never compromised
- Somewhere I am respected and valued
Shortly after I made my list, one of my customers – who is still one of the kindest, most genuine, hardworking individuals I know – made his regular weekly visit to the restaurant with a group of plumbers. He happened to be a wholesaler sales rep, who made a living “selling toilets,” as he put it.
We got to talking and he asked for my resume after he knew I was looking for new opportunities in life. That conversation quickly led me to Preferred Sales Inc., and within a week, I had my first interview.
Sell What for a Living?
After a few interviews, the position broke down to some basic concepts: customer service and keeping pace with rapid change. After my final interview with the company’s VP of Sales, Michelle Lewnes-Dadas, I realized this position checked every box on my list and could become a home.
The job was with a company that treated its team like family. I would be creating relationships with plumbing and heating wholesalers that knew and personally appreciated our team. I would be working with contractors who proved things like dignity, work ethic, and hard work still existed.
So, I took the job. It has been 18 months of learning one thing new every day and finding new, creative ways to solve problems. I have found a home with this company, which means more to me than any paycheck.
In a time of national crisis, leaders have acknowledged how critical trades workers are for the country. They provide filtered water, hot water, air filtration, lighting, electricity, and so much more.
While I can honestly say not even in my wildest dreams did I expect to be a female working in the plumbing industry, I’m incredibly proud to be a manufacturers’ representative in Ohio.