Samantha Nielsen: Sales Support Bid Specialist

What’s challenging/interesting/rewarding about my current job?

  • I’m working in publishing! I decided to double-major in English and Communications: Journalism at QU so I would have the necessary skills for a career in publishing. I currently work as a Sales Support Bid Specialist at Pearson Learning Services; states will place a call for textbooks for a subject matter, and I am responsible for submitting the final bid to the state. While I have worked on RFPs in the past, I have never done something like state adoptions. My first “bid season” begins in January, and while I know it will be a challenge, I also believe that I have the skills necessary to be successful.

How do I use various communication proficiencies in my work?

  • Funny story: As a Customer Service Associate at a financial institution, I worked to support the Relationship Managers by scheduling their meetings and creating their reports and supplemental documents. While doing this job, I had some down-time, so I volunteered to take over the Requests for Proposal (RFPs) for the company. We had a dedicated individual for RFPs, but she left the company shortly after I arrived, and the company still hadn’t found a new owner. I felt confident that I could handle the work, and I was given the responsibility. I successfully responded to approximately 30 RFPs by streamlining the process and submitting a clean response to the requesting company. Also, I got my current job through my RFP experience; I now perform similar duties at the state level, called adoptions. While state adoptions are not exactly like RFPs, they both rely upon the same skills to create a successful response.

What surprised me about my career?

  • I was surprised at how well my English and Communications: Journalism degree helped me when I worked at a financial institution. Many of the individuals I worked with majored in Business or Finance, and I believe I was the only one to have majored in English or Communications. I thought my degrees would hold me back in the financial field, but they propelled me forward! I was frequently asked to make workflows and training processes because of my excellent writing skills. I assisted the Chief Marketing Officer in creating a company Style Guide, and I became the company’s RFP specialist, responsible for responding to RFPs and creating finalist presentations, due to my educational background and attention to detail. I even became the office proofreader!

Here’s my number one piece of advice for Communication undergrads:

  • Keep an open mind as to where you can go with a Communications degree. Many careers look for, and require, excellent verbal and written communication skills. If you can communicate effectively, many employers will teach you the necessary skills to excel in their field. Take a chance and see where your degree can take you!

What should we have asked you?    

  • Most surprising thing to have happened because of my Communications degree: I wholeheartedly believe that a big part of why I was selected for New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute was all my experience in magazine publishing. I was a writer for the Communications magazine for two years, and I was the student Editor-in-Chief under Dr. John Schleppenbach for a year. Along with my experience with QU’s literary magazine, I had a good amount of experience with magazine writing and publishing, and I think they liked that! My experience at NYU was unforgettable, and I don’t think I would have made it without the experience from my Journalism degree.

Class year: 2014

Previous jobs since graduation: Receptionist/Administrative Assistant; Customer Service Associate

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