Melissa Soto ’11 knew in high school which career path she would follow but this girl from Carey, Ohio couldn’t have imagined growing up to become a district sales manager for Coca-Cola Refreshments. Her high school marketing teacher recognized her talents and encouraged her to go into sales. “I’ve always been good at documentation, analyzing costs and persuading customers, so majoring in marketing and sales was a no-brainer for me,” Soto explained. She started her college education at a state school but once her family determined that they didn’t have the financial means for her to continue, she decided to attend Owens Community College to earn an associate’s degree.
During her time at Owens, many 4-year colleges and universities visited campus to recruit students. Soto explained that the University of Findlay offered a seamless transition of her credits from Owens, and she didn’t have to repeat any classes. “Being a student paying her way through college; for me, this was a huge benefit,” she said. Another factor that led her to UF was the scholarships she received because of her GPA.
Once Soto arrived at Findlay, she knew that marketing was the right decision for her from day one. “My coursework really went beyond the textbooks and taught me about the inner workings of a business. I felt comfortable stepping into a company and selling their products with great success,” she said.
Soto cites her classes at the University of Findlay for providing her with real world experiences. She mentioned that a class instructed by Chris Ward, Ed.D. taught her the importance of price per unit through working with businesses in Findlay. “This is exactly what I do now,” she explained. “I work with the customers to find out how Coca-Cola Refreshments can help their business, then provide products and services that will help.” Dr. Ward also helped Soto to complete her bachelor’s degree within two years and even told her about a position available at Corporate Research International which became her first job out of college. “I really do not think I would have been so successful in school and after without her help,” Soto expressed.
Soto explained that at Coke no day is the same. “With Coca-Cola, I am always out in the field with my team. I love meeting new people and helping them grow their businesses. In addition, I have the great experience to have The Ohio State University as a customer so I have the opportunity to attend OSU games and treat my customers to a great experience.”
According to Soto you do not need to go to a big state school to get a good job after you graduate. “With my position, I have to hire new employees and where they went to school is the last thing I look at,” she said. Soto looks to see if the candidates have a degree and judges them on how they perform in an interview. Being a non traditional student and transferring from a community college, Soto didn’t feel like she missed out on anything. She stated, “If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing!”
Special thanks to Coca-Cola Refreshments for allowing us to shoot this video with Melissa. Click here to view it.