Student’s Double Major in Professional Sales and Piano an Unlikely Combination

April 4, 2022 | News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Business and Innovation
By Laren Kowalczyk

When Gina DiGirolamo arrived at The University of Toledo as a freshman in 2019, she never planned to major in sales.

“I remember working in retail and telling myself I would go into business, but I would never major in sales,” DiGirolamo said. “I hated upselling shoes and clothes. I wanted to avoid having that label as a ‘pushy salesperson.’ ”


Today, DiGirolamo is a junior with a dual major in professional sales and piano, a unique pairing of degrees.

Her initial plan was to get a business degree and open a music store where she could teach piano lessons. DiGirolamo has been playing piano since she was 5 years old and taught lessons in high school.

“I liked teaching and I liked playing,” she said. “The people I worked for when I was teaching piano ran a business, so I thought maybe I could do that.”

DiGirolamo began to doubt those plans in her sophomore year, leading her to shadow a few business professionals. Among them were her cousins, who are real estate agents in Michigan.

“I worked with them and watched what they did,” DiGirolamo said. “In real estate, you have a very flexible schedule. They went to the gym at 7 a.m. and got to the office at 9 a.m. They’re 25 years old and have the capacity to make a ton of money. I thought, ‘This is so cool. I want to do this.’ ”

DiGirolamo met with Deirdre Jones, director of the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in UToledo’s John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation, to learn more about a degree in sales.

Soon after, DiGirolamo declared professional sales as her major and participated in two sales competitions, something she couldn’t have imagined a few years prior.

“Deirdre was definitely one of my biggest influences as well as attending and loving the sales events I participated in,” DiGirolamo said. “I can’t speak highly enough of the sales program at UT.”

In early 2021, DiGirolamo accepted an internship at Northwestern Mutual Toledo and discovered a passion for financial advising.

“I absolutely love my job at Northwestern,” she said. “I make my own schedule. I meet with clients when I want to meet with them. I build long-term relationships with my clients as opposed to making quick sales like I thought most of the sales world was. I could see myself here forever.”

Gina DiGirolamo has been playing piano since she was 5 years old and taught lessons in high school.

Although piano is no longer part of DiGirolamo’s immediate career plans, she enjoys playing and doesn’t see any reason to stop pursuing the degree.

“I’m so close to getting that second degree, so I might as well keep going,” she said. “I’ve learned so much, and I love it.”

DiGirolamo is active outside of classes and her internship. She’s involved in UToledo’s Women in Business Leadership organization and helped start Toledo Powerlifting, a powerlifting club on campus.

The idea for the club came after DiGirolamo and several friends attended the USA Powerlifting Michigan State Championships in November. Several universities there had powerlifting clubs, which inspired the group to explore the possibility of forming one at UToledo. More than 20 students attended Toledo Powerlifting’s first meeting in March.

“Gina is one of the most fascinating students I have come to know at The University of Toledo,” said Lora Parent, associate lecturer in the College of Business and Innovation. “In addition to her dual majors, she has gone above and beyond with engagement in her extracurricular activities. I wish I could clone Gina. Her attitude toward life is inspiring and her personality is contagious. I am proud to have worked so closely with her over the past couple of years.”

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