Two 2012 graduates of the College of Business began IBM careers in Massachusetts in July. Zack Spoor and Jennifer Mankowsky sell predictive analytics software to top-level executives in their work as representatives of the new Business Analytics Division.

Their jobs came about in part because both were determined students who maximized their Illinois State experience. They participated in the Professional Sales Institute and took advantage of fantastic networking opportunities. Both belonged to Pi Sigma Epsilon, a collegiate selling fraternity. Spoor was co-chair of the Business Week Transitions Seminar. As president of the Illinois State University Delta Zeta sorority chapter, Mankowsky coordinated the community service outreach for Business Week.

They each received financial support as students from the Enterprise Rent-a-Car Endowment, which funds a total of 15 scholarships annually. Each is a $1,200 award.

Both graduates also benefited from the Sales Institute, which initiates student-business interactions through everything from scheduling campus speakers to a summer golf outing that pairs students with people in business.

An alumni connection also helped Spoor and Mankowsky. IBM Vice President for Global Client Centers Connie Shoemake ’77 is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. She brought Illinois State’s sales program to IBM’s attention. University faculty were consequently empowered to provide prescreening for IBM. Spoor and Mankowsky were two of three finalists who went on for comprehensive interviews in Chicago that resulted in their hiring.

“The key is preparation and company fit,” said Professional Sales Institute Executive Director Michael Boehm.

Success of the program is further illustrated by the high employment rate of 2012 graduates. Of 20 students in Professor Jill Attaway’s Advanced Personal Selling and Negotiations class, 19 reported a total of 44 job offers with an average salary of just more than $39,000. The student with the top offer joined Enfos after meeting company representatives at the Professional Sales Golf Outing in 2011.