Megan Barrett isn’t sure what’s sweeter – starting her career in sales for the Salem Baking Company after graduating a semester early from HPU, or the homemade products she works to place on the shelves of major retailers.
You probably know the taste of Moravian cookies, can picture cheese straws on the shelves at Christmas, and you’ve likely given their shortbread cookies as a gift many times before. Now, this HPU grad is behind the scenes of that distribution process.
After graduating a semester early in December, Barrett received her business administration degree from High Point University. Today, she’s a sales associate at Salem Baking Company in Winston-Salem, where she handles the sales to national distribution companies like United National Foods Inc. and KeHE Distributors. The sales team also works with William Sonoma, Bloomingdales and other private labels.
Barrett first connected with the company last semester during an internship. After a few months as a supply chain management intern, Salem Baking Company offered her a full-time position to begin days after her December graduation.
She says without the career advice she received from her HPU professors, she likely would not have taken the initiative to network and put herself out there.
“HPU taught me how important networking is,” says Barrett, a native of Lenoir, North Carolina. “Many of my professors always showed my classes how networking can help in obtaining jobs and promotions. Being in a sales career, I cannot stress enough how important networking is for landing a job and for succeeding within that position.”
There’s no cookie cutter path from entering freshman to prepared senior – it’s an individualized transformation for each HPU student, and Barrett began hers as soon as she arrived.
During her freshman year, Barrett met with Bridget Holcombe in Career & Internship Services to get help reducing her resume from five pages to one.
“I continued to meet with her to gain advice on obtaining internships during the summer and school year,” she recalls. “When I began to get job offers last fall, Bridget assisted me with negotiations and making the right decision.”
At HPU, Barrett was mentored by professors who cared about her future. She credits Dr. Shawn Davenport, her academic advisor and chair of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, in helping her during her search for jobs, internships and graduating early.
“The beautiful campus, resources and messages from staff and professors at HPU combined to make my college experience more than I could have ever dreamed of,” says Barrett. “It allowed me to strive for an extraordinary life.”
Although she’s not taking classes anymore, Barrett takes the time to relay the knowledge she gained at HPU to current students. She recently spoke on an alumni panel during one of Dr. Nido Qubein’s President’s Seminars, where she shared the importance of networking as well as career tips geared specifically for HPU seniors.
“Using quantifying language on a resume will really make it stand out to employers,” Barrett said during the seminar. “LinkedIn is also a great tool for networking for soon-to-be college graduates.”
While she admits the job hunt can be intimidating, Barrett offers this advice to current students:
“Apply to jobs and companies that look like what you are interested in, but don’t settle or feel desperate. From first-hand experience I can tell you how nervous I was about not finding a job I would like, or a job at all! When you feel worried or think nothing will work out, just take a deep breath. You will find that position you’ve been working hard for.”