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Would you be surprised to learn that in the door-to-door sales trade, you could rival any top earner in another profession? Or that the skills and training you learn from this industry, combined with a winning personality and strong work ethic, can give you a decided edge on any future career you seek?

Science undergrad Kelly Luczak was seeking summer work when a College Pro Painters recruiter came to her class. Hired, she quickly discovered she loved her job. College Pro traditionally goes door-to-door offering homeowners free paint estimates. I wasn't a painter, but my organizational skills and enthusiasm made me the right candidate as a franchisee, Luczak says. I'm also one of a few females in the GTA to pursue this profession, and I highly recommend it to those willing to work hard.

Although finding the right balance between work and personal life was her main challenge when she began, she listened and applied the advice and training from her general manager. College Pro taught me how to pace myself to avoid burnout, Luczak says. I learned to develop strong customer relations and do accurate paint estimates.

She also gained entrepreneurial and leadership skills, public speaking, and presenting, and took advantage of College Pro's networking opportunities, enabling her to expand her franchise. In my second year, I made $225,000 in sales and earned between $70,000 to 100,000, she says. I cleared my school debt and I'm now saving money. At age 22, she may run a franchise again next year as a part-time field advisor.

Business student Spencer Turbitt of Owen Sound has managed to pay for his education debt-free as a College Pro franchisee, and has saved his last two years' tuition fees. Beginning at 18, (and now at 20), he successfully manages 25 student employees. He turned his biggest obstacles into opportunities for personal and professional growth. I learned how to handle multiple employees and manage my time effectively, he says. The business earned $70,000 profit. It's a great relief knowing I won't carry a huge school debt after I've graduated. College Pro has given me the confidence and know-how to pursue my own business.

Xerox Canada provides businesses with technical and document solutions, in addition to personalized service. The company's sales sector is especially interested in new business grads or alumni; grads from other disciplines are welcome, if they have the drive, personality and passion for sales. We hire full-time, entry-level agency sales reps, says Thilo Mohan, recruitment & sourcing specialist for Xerox Canada. Within 12 to 36 months, they can advance as agency team leaders/managers, or apply to our mainline positions in sales, HR, accounting or marketing, which are posted periodically. Sales managers also help guide ideal candidates. First-year hires are placed in territories that run as independent Xerox-authorized sales agencies, gaining valuable experience with outside sales, administration, proposal and pitch preparations, and cold/warm calling.

Although 100 per cent commission-based in large city areas, (smaller regions offer base salaries), you can typically make between $40,000ÔÇô60,000 in the first year, followed by annual increases. Some new grads, however, have earned six figures, Mohan says. It depends on how driven you are and how well you meet challenges along the way. Senior staff and sales managers help new hires succeed with their open-door policy, supportive team meetings, and generous incentives to keep workers engaged.

Photo: Spiderstock/iStock