ComArtSci alumnus skyrockets through AT&T Sales Program

Posted on: November 4, 2016

For some students, finding their field of passion comes more naturally than it does for others. However, for class of 2013 grad Adam Upholzer, he did it by scouting out his dream company early on, then discovering which department he best fit in. Majoring in Communication, Adam’s original idea of going into network operations or service assurance at AT&T led him toward an interest in sales, then eventually to pursuing the Sales Leadership minor at ComArtSci.

“Before the minor I never considered going into sales,” said Upholzer.“I knew that I
wanted to work for AT&T, but sales was not on my radar. I quickly found out that sales was the best way to get my foot in the door with AT&T.

“I am extremely thankful that I started my career in sales because it gave a much deeper understanding of the business, our products and our customers.”

How it all startedprofile

AT&T was Upholzer’s top pick when he started his job search. Scanning  their website for openings it was then that he discovered their Business Sales Leadership Development Program (BSLDP). It is a fast paced program that AT&T offers to upcoming business sales leaders. It’s organized to prepare future professionals for the industry, while allowing them to reach their maximum potential with a wide range of products, industry-leading services and a strong network of peers by their side.

“I was able to reach out to someone who worked in that program and they were able to get me in touch with a recent graduate of the development program,” Upholzer stated. “After speaking with that person I was absolutely certain that B2B (Business to Business) sales at AT&T was where I wanted to start my career.”

Upholzer said that the sales program gave him an incredible advantage over others hired into the program.

A soaring career

After obtaining the Diamond Club Award in March 2016 for being in the top 1 percent of the  program’s class, Upholzer was rewarded with an additional and unforgettable honor. Accompanied by his father, Upholzer won an all-expenses paid trip for two to the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami, Florida. He reflected on the personal greetings from limo drivers at the airport; 5-star meals every day; fan boat tours through the everglades; a private concert by Keith Urban; and being introduced to ABC Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec.

“The experience was unforgettable and made me feel like my hard work was truly appreciated,” Upholzer said.

While he acknowledges the company for the recognition he has received for his dedication, he treats every day like it’s a new challenge. Everybody in the industry has their own way of pitching a sale, but Upholzer explained that he doesn’t already know the solution before meeting with a client.

“My specialty is to sit down face to face with you in order to develop a better understanding of your business and your strategy as you move forward. That will allow me to design a full color solution tailored exactly to your company and not a black and white solution that you can just order on our website,” said Upholzer.

Future pitchers

When Upholzer was asked about his time at ComArtsci, a specific mentor came to mind who he credits for educating him the right way. Coordinator of MSU’s Sales Communication Specialization Jennifer Rumler has been working with the program since 2008. Her challenging curriculum prepared Upholzer to excel in his career today.

Without her devotion to growing the program while maintaining the high level of talent, I don’t think I would have taken the classes as seriously as I did,” said Upholzer. “I was honored to be admitted to the sales specialization, but I knew from day one how hard I would have to work in order to meet her expectations. Given that, I also knew that my peers were being held to the same high expectations, which motivated me to be around a group of students who were just as determined to succeed as I was.”

Upholzer would advise future sales specialists to realize that, at the end of the day, it is your network that determines your net-worth.

“You can never have too many connections, attend too many career events or have too much sales experience,” he continued. “You grow from every opportunity you take advantage of so don’t leave anything on the table.”

To learn more about the minor, click here.

By Emmy Virkus

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Online strategic communication degree empowers working professionals

Pretty woman is working in a café

Organizations seek out the abilities. Professionals strive for the knowledge and skills. And starting Spring 2017, the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will welcome its first class into a new online master’s program, convenient for working professionals, on strategic communications.

The Master of Arts in Strategic Communication represents the first time the College has offered a degree program 100 percent online. The program responds to the needs of professionals through its flexible delivery as well as through content that addresses the challenges of a 21st century communication environment.

"Given the rapidly changing communication ecosystem, mid-career professionals are eager for training to update their skills," says Prabu David, Dean of the College of ComArtSci. "Currently, communication professionals, including our own alumni, do not have rich, in-state options to learn new media techniques. This new online M.A. in strategic communication fills that gap."

Students in the nine-course, 30-credit program will examine how to leverage today's evolving media and digital mix into an integrated marketing and communications strategy for businesses, start-ups, non-profits or government agencies. Expert faculty will handle all aspects of course content and bring expertise in corporate messaging, news and information, fundamental communication processes, audience research and data analytics, and new technologies. Students will also complete a service-learning project that enables them to apply their newly acquired expertise within a community setting.

"The College of ComArtSci has long-standing leadership in an integrated theory-to-practice orientation toward effective communication strategy and tactics," says John Sherry, associate dean of for graduate studies in ComArtSci. "There is no other college in the world with such broad and deep coverage of these issues."

Students can complete courses and requirements from anywhere, anytime and at their own pace in one to three years. The program is ideally suited for working professionals with three to five years of experience in communications as well as for business and communication entrepreneurs. Students will also have opportunity to collaborate with other online learners, further enhancing their professional network.

"The ability for individuals to be located anywhere and enroll in this master's program is a distinct advantage," says ComArtSci Alum April M. Clobes, president and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union. "Being able to complete the program while working full-time is also essential for long-term success. MSU's high rankings in the field of communications along with excellent faculty, will make this a highly sought after degree."

The program is currently accepting applications and no GRE is required. To learn more about MSU's new online master's degree program in strategic communication through the College of ComArtSci, visit or contact the program director at

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National Collegiate Sales Competition

Posted on: April 17, 2015

The National Collegiate Sales Competition at Kennesaw State University was where the four finalists of the All MSU Sales Competition advanced to compete, individually, against students from 68 different universities across the United States. The competition was set up tournament-style exactly like it was at the All MSU competition, except for the larger number of student competitors. The competitors sold ADP RUN Payroll software to prospective buyers and had to sell their way to the top. MacKenzie Walters and Zac Swierad represented Michigan State, while Sam Coskie and Rachel Kern were prepared to compete by standing in as alternates. Michigan State ranked ninth overall amongst the 68 universities. MacKenzie placed 64th and Zac placed seventh- both ranked out of 134 individual competitors.

four finalists

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Looking Back: National Team Selling Competition, Looking Ahead: MSU Sales Competition

Posted on: January 27, 2015

The National Team Selling Competition (NTSC) is held every year at Indiana University where 20 different student sales teams go head-to-head in selling a product or service to a buyer. The competition is held for two long days, and after deliberations from the judges, the winning team is revealed. Most recently, the judges were 3M and Altria; Altria is also a sponsor of the MSU Sales Specialization. In past years, Michigan State paved the way of success by winning three out of the seven competitions, and this year they made it into the top six teams. In response to the success at the National Team Selling Competition, Michigan State's participants were asked to reflect on the competition:

"The National Team Selling Competition was a gratifying experience for me. Our MSU team put countless hours in, and we had exceptional chemistry, which I believe is key to getting results from a sales competition." -Rachel Kern

"The National Team Selling Competition was the best group project experience you could ever ask for. I will be using it in many interviews to come!" -Jake Majeske

"The National Team Selling Competition taught me the importance knowing your client. As we've learned in many selling courses, there are unique buyers, and it's essential to understand how to pitch your partnership in a way that appeals to the potential customer." -Jennifer Sliva.

Looking ahead, the Specialization is soon to be involved in another sales competition, the All-MSU Sales Competition at the Henry Center on February 20, 2015. The All-MSU Sales Competition is made up of MSU students within the specialization who will be competing, tournament-style, for the championship. The product in which the students will be selling is ADP's "RUN payroll solution" system to a small business owner. The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship for their performance.

Check out the full article on the NTSC here!

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Advertising Alumna is a Key Account Sales Rep for Gannet Publishing

Posted on: December 8, 2014
Emily Doyle

What was your major in college?
I majored in Advertising with a Sales Communication Specialization.

What internships did you have?
I interned with the Lansing State Journal media group and also a high-end boutique in Northern Michigan.

How would you describe your current career?
I am working to build a career and skill set in the rapidly changing landscape of advertising, which with the rise of digital marketing is in a constant state of change. In my current role as a Key Account Sales Rep for Gannett Publishing, I am asked to sell and then implement six-figure marketing  programs in the SMB (small and mid-sized business) space across diverse traditional and digital platforms.

Where did you start after college?
After graduating in 2012, I stayed with the high-end boutique until October and then moved to Tallahassee, Fla., in March to start my job with FSView as a Multimedia Sales Consultant.

What will be your biggest challenge in this new role?
The biggest challenge in my new role as a Key Accounts Executive is managing the complexity of modern advertising strategies. I must fully coordinate and implement a cohesive strategy across traditional, digital display, search, re-marketing, social and email platforms - all while communicating effectively with business owners who may not and cannot hope to keep up with all the latest technologies, trends and techniques and thus rely on me to be their guide to success.

How did the sales program impact you?
It opened a new perspective for me of sales people. Sales is all about strategy.

What is the best advice you would give current students in the sales program?
Practice multitasking and the skills and ability to communicate complex technical products to decision makers in the SMB space who often have limited knowledge of digital marketing in a clear, concise and non-intimidating way. Do your homework each day to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of digital advertising in all its forms.  Knowledge of and the ability to communicate in this growing sphere of advertising is what will set you apart from other candidates for open positions.

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Congratulations Mario McLean!

Posted on: November 25, 2014
Mario McLean, Communication major with the Sales specialization, will be the speaker at commencement for the graduating class of 2015. Mario is a bright and talented individual with a wonderful enthusiasm for opportunity. In a brief interview, he speaks further on the subject:
1) How did you hear about becoming a commencement speaker?/when?
          It was back in October. I had received an email that was asking for student commencement speakers for the December graduation. And I actually had no idea that this was even an opportunity. One of my biggest strengths has always been identifying opportunities. With that being said, I then began writing my speech to prepare for graduation in May. In between classes, or whenever I had a great idea, I’d constantly update my speech. Also, a month or so ago, I had auditioned to be the speaker on behalf of Com Arts but unfortunately, fell short. That only fueled me to apply to be the student commencement speaker at Convocation. Although this was going to be an even bigger audience and even tougher candidate pool, I still believed in myself that I was capable of doing this.
2) What measures did you take to prepare?
          This sort of ties in to the previous question, but I had started last semester to get a jump start on my speech. I had a few of my mentors give me feedback and then since I had already applied, I was a little more prepared and knew what to expect and how to learn from mistakes I may have made previously.
3) How many others auditioned? 
          Good question. I still am not sure on how many people applied. I have to ask the Commencement Committee. When I had found out that I was selected, the Committee had said that there were many applicants that had applied and it was very competitive. They didn’t specify how many though.
4) Is there anything you would like to say about your experience with the sales specialization/how it has prepared you for this moment in any way/shape/form, how it has influenced you? 
          The main takeaway I learned from being involved in the sales specialization was to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you stay in your “shell” your whole life, you’ll never reach your fullest potential. In relation to my speech, I do understand that this is definitely a big deal. There are going to be thousands of people I’ll be speaking in front of, so it’s going to be a new experience for me, as I never spoke in front of a group that large. However, I’m all about personal development and challenges. This is obviously a huge challenge, but I’m looking to see how I measure up. And not only that, I wanted this opportunity for quite a few months now, so I’m well-prepared to man the big stage at the Breslin and end my undergraduate career with an unforgettable experience!
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Congratulations Zach Doerr!

Posted on: October 23, 2014

Zach DoerrZach Doerr recently competed in the Sales Decathlon and placed 2nd overall. He was one of ten Michigan State University students to compete in the competition that took place on October 2nd – 4th at Northern Illinois University. The competition had over 140 students competing. Industry partners from 60 companies who ultimately reduced the field to the final 20 student athletes judged these events. There were 10 rounds, which included Voice Mail, Pre-Call Plan, Appointment Call, Technology Sales with Adobe Connect, Email Follow Up, Face-to-Face Role Play, Telephone Sales Call, and Elevator Pitch, Zach placed in 3 of those rounds. He came in 1st in the Voicemail Call, 1st in the Elevator Pitch, and 3rd in the Gatekeeper event. This was his 5th sales competition over the past two years and he loves the competitiveness in each competition.


Zach is majoring in marketing and is highly involved in the Sales Communication Specialization as well as the Global Sales Leadership Society. He is currently an intern at Cutting Edge and works at the football stadium selling concessions at the home games. Last year Zach was on the executive broad for GSLS as the Event’s Chair.

While competing in the competition Zach said he felt extremely proud and honored to be able to represent Michigan State University. When his name was called for placing 2nd overall he said he was surprised and very happy to represent MSU so well. Zach would love to work in sales in the transportation industry, by selling automotive or aviation products. He is graduating in May 2015.

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Alumni Spotlight: Brad Strain

Posted on: October 13, 2014

Brad StrainWhat was your major in college?


Other than interning in Jennifer Rumler's office for a semester where else have you interned?

I interned with an insurance company for a semester. This was my first professional experience and turned into a great opportunity to get a feel of what it was like to work in business. The position had a heavy sales aspect, which allowed me to test some of the skills acquired in the sales communication program. Being required to pick up the phone and cold call was difficult the first few times but the experience proved to be invaluable claiming this skill interviewing as well as help me in my current role.

I also had a summer internship at a financial planning firm in my hometown. This position was heavily client oriented, and I was able to experience what it was like pitching business while directly facing clients. Being face-to-face brings new challenges in the selling process. It was nice to be able to watch and learn how others handle themselves without having performance pressure on yourself in the meeting. This was a great opportunity to watch and pick up habits that I liked and try to include in mine own style in the future.  

Where did you start after college?

I started working at a commercial bank the summer after I graduated. The first year was a huge learning curve for me trying to get up to speed on the basics of banking and figuring out how to set an alarm clock again. During this year, I worked on being a sponge by asking questions and getting involved in everything I could. Staying organized was key at this point to be able to find notes and meet the many deadlines I was forced to balance. This paid off as time progressed and others were starting to give me more responsibility to the point where I acquired my own portfolio of clients. Although I wasn't in a position to sell, maintaining professional relationships was a skill I was able to again build on. 

Describe your current career.

I currently am an analyst for an investment bank in Chicago. This role is supporting client-facing executives with corporate clients. This position uses both interpersonal skills working in a team environment and heavy communication skills trying to coordinate large teams get deals to the finish line. 

What will be your biggest challenge in this new role?

This role includes many skills including attention to detail, analytics and communication. Working with large groups of people, the biggest challenge has proven to be the communication aspect of the position. Many of the other attributes are learned through putting in the hard work of the day to day. Clear, consistent communication sounds simple, but proves to be more difficult to implement. In my opinion, the best communicators in my firm are the easiest to work with and often prove to have the most successful careers. 

How did the Sales program impact your life?

I was able to expand the analytical skills that were shaped with a finance major and learn the challenging aspects of reading people, presenting, working in teams and how to win business. Early in my career, I was working on a daily basis to sell my ideas and opinions internally to build credibility. Also, learning how to network produced friends I still have today.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a current student in the Sales program?

Enjoy the ride. Work hard and opportunities are bound to follow. Sometimes these opportunities are well outside of your current comfort zone, but being open minded, it will let you zero in on what you are good at, what you need to work on, and what you simply aren't interested in. 


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Become an Alumni Donor

Posted on: October 8, 2014

Our Alumni Donors are very important to us, without your help and our corporate sponsors there would be no Sales Communication Specialization program.

Step One: Click on this link!
Step Two: Select a College or Program by selecting "Communication Arts and Sciences"
Step Three: Select "Sales Communication Specialization Fund" and add to cart
Step Four: Choose your amount and continue forward with the checkout process!

Thank you so much for your donation to help our program continue to grow!

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Sales Information Sessions

Posted on: September 28, 2014

If you would like to learn more about the Sales Communication Specialization as well as The Made In Italy Summer Study Abroad, put these dates in your calendar.

October 3rd, 2:00-3:00pm in room 184 of the COM Arts building (This will specifically geared towards The Made In Italy Study Abroad).

October 10th, 2:00-3:00pm in room 412 of the Eppley Center

October 17th, 2:00-3:00pm in room 184 of the COM Arts building

October 31st - Deadline to apply for the Sales Communication Specialization for Spring 2015


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