Students find success at State Farm competition

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By CHRIS HOLMBERG
Reporter
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The State Farm Marketing and Sales Competition, hosted annually by the UCM Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies in cooperation with State Farm, continues to be a source of success for UCM students.
Ginger Killian, assistant professor of marketing and the faculty adviser for UCM’s team at the event, said one benefit students get by participating in this and related events is the assistance she can offer them beyond the competition. She said she spends five to 10 hours a week with the students on the team, has developed strong working relationships with them and has provided job references for students who needed one.
It doesn’t stop there.
“When I get emails from employers looking for candidates, I can say I know someone who would be great for that,” Killian said. “I can look out for jobs. I can help them with that in the long run.”
For example, current UCM team coach Tyler Hirlinger was a State Farm Marketing and Sales Competition team member in 2014, and was hired by UCM three years later to teach sales classes.
Killian said she was not on the committee that hired Hirlinger, but she advocated for him.
“My immediate thought was that Tyler would have great success,” Killian said. “He’s young, energetic and students would respond well to him. After working with him in competition, I can speak to his skill set and how he would relate to students.”
The team’s most recent success came in November when Keli Myracle and Michael Nash earned the second-place Gold Award in Marketing Presentation at the 2016 State Farm Marketing and Sales Competition. Nash, a marketing major graduating in May, said his and Myracle’s success in the competition was a valuable experience.
“This achievement increases my confidence to go out into the sales force and start performing and showing off my skills and knowledge that I acquired through competitions like this and from the teachers who taught me at UCM,” Nash said.
Hirlinger said the skills learned and developed in the competition are valuable.
“Once sales skills are acquired, you can sell anything,” Hirlinger said. “These are skills that are applicable to anybody.”
Hirlinger said the competition taught him practical and important real-world skills.
Killian said she would love to see more students take advantage of this opportunity.
“A lot of students hear ‘sales’ and think, ‘Well, I don’t want to be a used car salesman,’” she said. “But that’s not all you can do with these skills.”
Killian said students do not need to have majors related to business, sales or marketing to compete. Hirlinger’s 2014 teammate, Alex Fleishman, was a chemistry major. Hirlinger and Fleishman placed third overall in the team competition.
Killian said in addition to the professional benefits, there are cash prizes – in 2015, the team took home about $14,000. In 2016, Myracle and Nash won a combined $5,000. Killian said each team member is awarded $1,000 from State Farm just for being selected to the team.
Killian said this success speaks favorably for the university as a whole.
“It shows that we’re not necessarily a small university, that we can hold our own with the rest of the country,” she said. “It shows that with the individual attention we can give to our students that much larger universities just can’t, we can not only compete with those schools but win. It builds our reputation as a university.”
That wasn’t lost on Nash in November.
“I loved getting to know my competitors from all over the U.S. and was very proud to represent UCM,” he said.
Hirlinger said he plans on taking applications for the team starting in the beginning of April and making the final decisions at the end of May for the 2017 State Farm Marketing and Sales Competition.
Applications can be obtained by visiting his office in the 200 suite of Dockery or by emailing him at [email protected].