Performing in front of an audience has never been an issue for Emelie Berke. She is, after all, a violin performance major. Performing in front of her peers while trying to make a sales pitch, however, is a different game for the senior from Kearney, Nebraska. For this reason the certificate program in sales excellence at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration appealed to her.
“It wasn’t too overwhelming at first. The hardest part was getting used to the whole role-play aspect – pitching something to someone new,” Berke said. “I mean, I did Girl Scouts as a kid, but this was totally different.”
Led by Dr. Ravi Sohi, Robert D. Hays Distinguished Chair of Sales Excellence and professor of marketing, the program gives both business and non-business majors the opportunity to enhance their communication skills in the business world. Students learn how to not only pitch their ideas but also sell themselves to employers in the CBA sales lab, where their pitches are videotaped and replayed to give students feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their assignments.
Berke came to UNL focused on preparing for a music career, and after graduating in December, she plans to go to graduate school to further her music education. She admittedly did not have an interest in business when she first got to campus. After starting the program, however, Berke discovered how important it could be to her career.
“To be honest, it’s been pretty fun,” Berke said. “I’ve learned a lot, as I am exposed to something so different than what I’m used to. Having that business knowledge has also helped me, as I can better sell myself and my skills.”
Berke first heard of the program during her sophomore year, when she and a friend were tossing around the idea of starting a business. An academic advisor suggested they check out the program, and both signed up for the initial class.
Berke considers the program an unofficial minor to go with her violin performance major because of its importance to her future. She eventually wants to give lessons and teach with an ultimate goal of playing in a symphony, and she said the ability to market herself effectively will play a key role in advancing her career.
“It will help me when it comes to giving lessons and teaching because I can market myself – here’s why you should take lessons from me,” Berke said. “I play for a lot of weddings, and it will help me say ‘I can be a good performer for you and here’s why.’ It will give me an edge when it comes to marketing myself and make a good case for why I should be hired.”
For more information on the sales certificate program, visit http://cba.unl.edu/salescenter