From Lemonade Sales to the Real Deal

by Lauren E. Burchett '00

After reading so many Scripps women’s work experiences, I began to think and reflect on my own. What I discovered was that even before I cognitively knew during my junior year at Scripps that I wanted to work in advertising sales, in some way or another it was always there. My career path was evident in the jobs and interests of my youth. So many of our careers have likely been dictated by the influences of our youth, where we excelled and where our interests lay while growing up. In my case, it started quite early.

My first sales job was selling lemonade with my brother at around the age of six. With my dad and stepmom both in sales themselves, they were so instrumental in the success of our stand. Even then I had sales mentors! We picked the best corner in the neighborhood, made the best lemonade, and of course with my dadS graphic skills, had the best signs. I can’t remember how much money we made that summer, but we had so much fun selling something that we liked. Every job after that was somehow related to sales-selling Girl Scout cookies, clothes at The Limted, or Ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, lotions and perfumes at Crabtree & Evelyn, to working In the PR Department at Scripps-all of which finally landed me where I am now-a real estate sales representative for The Wall Street journal.

So how did I go from selling lemonade to selling advertising for a newspaper? Well, that goes back to my love of print, which started with Highlights magazine, the first magazine I ever loved. That love of magazines remained as I grew up, and finally materialized into a job opportunity while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, where I applied for a media internship. During the interview process, they asked what I liked, and I responded that I loved magazines. I must have said the magic words that set the wheels in motion for my future job searches. I was awarded an internship with Cleo and Dolly, two Australian women’s magazines in their advertising sales offices. After working there for five months, I knew I had discovered what would become my career upon returning home, I laughed at how I would soon be following in the footsteps of my dad and his career in magazine ad sales and how I never thought that would happen. But now, I look back and think it wasn’t that much of a surprise, since ink seems to run in my veins, with my dad and stepmom both in magazine and newspaper sales, and my great aunt dabbling in journalisnl as well.

As I headed into my senior year, now knowing I wanted to pursue a career in magazines and advertising sales, I sought out internship opportunities at various magazines in Los Angeles. Through cold calling and many letters inquiring about internship opportunities, I was able to secure two internships, one at InStyle, and one at the office of Elle Decor, Home magazine and George magazine. While my internship at Elle Decor, Home and George lasted only for one summer, InStyle asked that I stay on through my senior year and help work events and coordinate product placement for advertisers In event goodie bags. While at InStyle, I was able to cultivate relationships with not only women in the office there, but sought out mentors throughout the company. The networking paid off when not too long after graduating in 2000, I received a call from one of my mentors informing me about a position at Sunset Magazine. After successfully interviewing, I started as an advertising sales assistant at Sunset in August 2000.

Over the eighteen months I worked at Sunset, I again sought out mentors and opportunities to enrich my knowledge of this industry I had come to love. I joined my managers on sales calls, presented to some of the top advertising agencies in Los Angeles and gained an overall knowledge of the industry. It was not easy, it did not pay too well, but I was doing something I was passionate about and loved getting up every morning and going to work because I loved what I did. However, being an assistant was only a stepping-stone to getting to the place I wanted to be-actually selling. So, I began once again to hit the pavement looking for sales jobs. This proved to be a tough road to travel, one filled with cliche sayings like “you don’t have enough experience,” or “we’re looking for sonleone more senior,” which were frustrating and sometimes discouraging. However, nothing was going to deter me from my goal of becoming a sales representative.

After six months of job searching filled with countless interviews, I found a company, willing to take a chance on me in what seemed to me, a very unlikely place-The Wall Street Journal. Throughout the interview process, I found managers who saw in me something familiar, something that reminded them of their drive and passion for this industry. While I did not have the years of experience like some of my competitors, they identified with the fact I was hungry and was worth bringing on to their sales team. Their chance has paid off, as has my drive to pursue a career in advertising sales. I now handle million dollar real estate accounts and sell advertising in all major editions of The Wall Street Journal, including The Asian Wall Street Journal and The Wall Street Journal Europe. It’s a great step for my career and sales has proven to be as rewarding and fulfilling as I had hoped it would be.

So, what now? As I look back on the careers and interests of my youth, I see that only one part of the puzzle is complete: I am selling. But what happened to the other loves and interests? They are still there, and now through more adult eyes, I see the amazing way, with the support of family and education, I was able to set my own career path even as a child. At this juncture in my career, I now look for ways to better meld my interests with my chosen career path. Ultimately, I hope to return to the world of magazines, namely women’s magazines, to which I feel a greater connection. But for now I think, maybe this career game is more child’s play than we first thought. And it comforts me to know that what I loved as a kid, selling lemonade, clothes, and beauty products, is turning into a lifelong career.