Student Discovers Passion for Sales, Successful Career

March 22, 2024 | News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Business and Innovation
By Natalie Burgess

Rachel Stapleton did not have the smoothest start to her academic career.

Hailing from Trenton, Michigan, Stapleton chose The University of Toledo for the strong engineering program, electing to focus on environmental engineering. Since she loves math, science and the world, it was only natural for her to pursue that career.

Photo of UToledo business student Rachel Stapleton giving thumbs-up while at her internship at Waste Management Inc.

Rachel Stapleton has had an internship with Waste Management Inc. for nearly a year.

Stapleton said she enjoyed her first semester; however, for her second semester, she said a heavy workload and personal issues led up to her being put on academic probation.

She decided to change her academic pursuit and enroll in the John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation as a professional sales and marketing student.

She also was a member of UToledo’s chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE), a fraternity for professional sales, marketing and management students. As a part of this organization, Stapleton was surrounded by people who were passionate and motivated about helping others, which she said helped to inspire her.

After changing her major to professional sales and marketing, Stapleton had significant help from Deirdre Jones, director of the Edward Schmidt School of Professional Sales.

“Deirdre has shown me to stand up for myself and my ideas, especially being a woman in the field,” Stapleton said. “My favorite conversations about sales, life and friendship have happened in her office.”

Jones praised Stapleton’s work ethic and commitment to success, saying she is energetic and hard-working.

“What elevates her is that she seeks and incorporates coaching and doesn’t shy away from asking questions or uncomfortable situations,” Jones said. “Rachel is confident in the process and herself and sets that expectation with others. She shares opportunities, generates participation through camaraderie and student organization protocol, makes sure she is involved as either a leader, coach, or general participant, and follows up to gauge ongoing fit and engagement.”

Stapleton said one of her bigger accomplishments is being on the executive board of Pi Sigma Epsilon, which affords her and other members important networking opportunities.

“Building up young professionals through experiential learning is so important,” she said. “I will always be my member’s number one cheerleader and teach them the importance of showing up. Being involved with an organization bigger than myself is my passion and you can ask anyone, I am always leading with passion especially when it comes to PSE.”

As a professional sales and marketing student, Stapleton has a pair of ongoing internships: Waste Management Inc., since May, and The University of Toledo Family Business Center, since August. She also has participated in numerous sales competitions, which allow students to practice their marketing skills through a realistic atmosphere.

“I take part in these competitions through Pi Sigma Epsilon and the Edward Schmitt School of Professional Sales,” she said. “While I have never been in the top placement at these competitions, I always receive high-quality feedback I can bring back to my real sales role.”

After all her hard work, Stapleton was placed on the Dean’s List for the first time in fall 2023 semester, which she said inspired her to share her story on LinkedIn. In the post, she discussed the ups and downs of her journey and concluded that “success is not your GPA. Changing your path is not admitting you failed. You only fail if you stop trying.”

“Moving through college is hard and feeling alone was the worst pain imaginable,” Stapleton said. “This post was a checkpoint for people who were in my shoes and a reminder that it’s OK to not have everything figured out. There are so many success stories that start at the very bottom and I felt like it was finally time to share how I dragged myself off the bottom and found my success.”

Click to access the login or register cheese