Damon Washington, a Southeast Missouri State University senior from Chesterfield, Missouri, gave a presentation today to the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents, highlighting how his hands-on, professional experiences on campus launched his future career.
Washington said he was drawn to Southeast as a transfer student because of the University’s commitment to student success and the campus’ culture to encourage and celebrate one another.
When he first started at Southeast, he said he didn’t know what a sales management degree was or how he could fit into that career path, but with the assistance and support of his professors, he discovered his future, Washington said.
“I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning, but with the support of my professors I got better and more confident,” he said. “I hadn’t thought about sales before, but now it’s my future and career.”
That confidence led to becoming a member of Southeast’s Collegiate DECA and winning first place for his professionally prepared business presentation at the 2017 Collegiate DECA State Career Development Conference and Competition in Spring 2017. His win propelled him to the International Career Development Conference where he finished in the top 10 in professional sales and in the sales challenge. DECA is an organization preparing students at both the college and high school levels to be emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
“Being a member of this student organization and going to these competitions set me up for job interviews and career opportunities,” he said.
Washington also will represent Southeast as a member of the First Southeast Sales Management Competition Team at the 2017 International Collegiate Sales Competition-Sales Management Case Competition Nov. 1-4 hosted by Florida State University.
At the recommendation of a faculty member, he completed an externship with Boeing, where he shadowed the company’s chief financial officer for a day in St. Louis, Missouri.
“It was an amazing experience to see how decisions are made at that level and to think about myself being there some day,” Washington said.
The successful education and professional foundation he built at Southeast led to him attending the 2017 National Collegiate Sales Competition’s Career Fair where he met representatives from Qualtrics, a private experience management company. His initial interviews were so successful, the company flew him to their corporate offices in Provo, Utah, for an additional interview. At the end of the trip, Qualtrics offered him a job, which he accepted.
“They were willing to recruit and hire me seven months before I graduate,” he said.
Because of the skills and knowledge gained from University faculty, courses and services, such as Career Services, he was able to find his calling and launch his career, Washington said.
“I’ve had great experiences at Southeast throughout my time here,” he said. “The faculty look out for you, they want you to exceed and excel, especially if you have the will to do it.”
He’s particularly grateful for the faculty members in Southeast’s Department of Management and Marketing and Department of Accounting in the Harrison College of Business, including Dr. John Cherry, Dr. Dena Hale, Dr. Christine Ladwig, Nancy LeGrand and Dr. Leisa Marshall.
“They’ve helped me become the professional person I am today,” Washington said.
Washington expects to graduate from Southeast in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with majors integrated marketing communications and sales management.
He begins his new position as a sales development representative with Qualtrics in January 2018. After six months of training, he hopes to be promoted to an account executive and, one day, to become an enterprise account executive and manage some of the company’s major clients.