Medical device sales is in some ways a hidden industry. Over the years, some people I’ve spoken to have been stunned to find out that medical device reps are in the operating room while surgery is going on. With the decline of the pharmaceutical industry, medical device sales is becoming a more well known as a possible career path.
While it would be ideal to optimize your studies by choosing a relevant degree, gaining work experience while in college is equally important. In some ways, I would consider relevant work experience in sales during college even more important than your choice of major. It gives you a chance to try out sales and make sure it is a good fit for you, develop first-hand knowledge of the sales process, and even build a few accomplishments to include on your resume. Hopefully, you’ll make some money too.
Cell phone sales is a flexible and excellent way to get sales experience while in college. Verizon and other large companies often provide great sales training. If you meet and exceed your quota, the results you’ll have to add to your resume will be invaluable… just be sure to save the documentation of your performance.
Some well known companies offer great internship opportunities to college students. Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and Northwestern Mutual offer training and track interns performance. During the summer, you could sell knives for Cutco or books for the Southwestern Company. You have to work incredibly hard to be successful at either, but it’s a great way to cut your teeth in sales. When I see experiences like these on someone’s resume, I think to myself, “Now here is someone who really must love sales.”
Finding an internship directly in medical sales will probably require you to tap into your network to uncover such opportunities. Look for alumni who are in the medical device industry through your college or on LinkedIn. Connections like these are helpful at any stage of your career. If you are interested in orthopedics, for example, you could offer to be a runner for a distributor, which means you would drop off instrumentation and products at the hospital for use in surgical cases. One enterprising student I know did that, and he started in the industry full-time immediately after college. Five years later, he was an incredibly successful trauma rep.
Collegiate experience in sales will put you far ahead of peers when competing for sales jobs after graduation. Even if you don’t break into medical sales straightaway, you’ll be in a better position to land a position with a well-respected company that will help you gain the right kind of sales experience as foundation for your career.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~Thomas Jefferson