Three recent college grads increased their chances of finding $50K-plus sales positions through a pilot training program presented by Avenica and Virtanza in November.

Recruiting company Avenica bridges qualified recent college graduates into career-track, entry-level positions with employers. Virtanza offers virtual training in consultative sales with real-life work role-plays, extensive instruction in communication skills, and practical experience in online networking and personal branding. Its curriculum is certified for two hours of undergraduate college credit. The Avenica Sales Boot Camp & Placement Program, featuring Virtanza’s Professional Sales Curriculum, was an accelerated version of the full Virtanza program, which also includes Microsoft skills training and resume development.

“The boot camp was a challenging yet rewarding course to take,” says Jade Williamson, one of the program participants. Jade is a 2017 graduate of Clayton State University in the metro Atlanta area.

“Coming from a background with no sales experience, I’m truly amazed at the content I was able to learn in just three short weeks,” she adds. “The program not only teaches you sales techniques, it allows you to actually do the research and put together a proposal as a sales professional would.”

Joel Rachwitz, a 2018 graduate of Concordia University Chicago, majored in English in college. After considering a career in the ministry, he decided to change direction. In the boot camp, Joel found that qualities that first pointed him toward the ministry are just as important for a sales professional, such as the ability to listen to others’ needs and gain their trust. The boot camp helped him build on such natural abilities by teaching him the step-by-step sales process.

“Virtanza allowed me the opportunity to learn new skills that I know will set me apart in my new career,” Joel says.

Avenica boot camp student Jack McGinnity is a graduate of University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Jack got his first sales job — selling door-to-door — the summer after he graduated from high school. Virtanza training helped him build on strengths he already had, such as new business development. “I learned how to develop a business proposal in both Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and how to present it,” Jack says. “I also got familiar with Salesforce, which is a powerful tool in the sales industry.”

Any company’s sales organization is the engine that keeps it running. As a result, there is a widespread need for qualified salespeople in today’s employment market. In fact, more than one-fourth of all open positions in U.S. are sales positions, no matter the region or the prevailing economy.


Avenica seeks to expand its footprint in the sales recruitment arena by equipping graduates it recruits with professional sales skills, then placing them in entry-level positions with its clients. The Avenica-Virtanza pilot was coordinated by Brian Weed (CEO) and Kara Westrich (COO) in their Minneapolis and Atlanta offices, two of seven Avenica regional offices serving clients and candidates throughout the country.

“We’ve been in the entry-level recruiting business at Avenica for more than 20 years now. In this time, a theme that has not only remained consistent but has grown is companies seeking more practical, job-specific skills in their entry-level candidates. Colleges don’t and often can’t provide the kind of education to properly train for these kinds of positions, so we wanted to find alternative solutions to bridge this need for our clients and candidates,” commented Brian.

Virtanza’s mission is to acquaint adult learners nationwide with its short-term, affordable job training and placement program and the almost limitless opportunities available in sales. Most people have a natural affinity for sales but are not aware of it. Virtanza starts each student off with a comprehensive sales profile assessment that emphasizes their natural talents.

“Joel is extraordinary in gathering customer needs, Jade’s top strength is getting the customer to ‘yes,’ and Jack’s top skill is developing a plan that is most likely to bring a return on the investment,” reports Debbie Holzkamp, Virtanza founder, CEO and instructor. “All three learned how to apply their strengths to take a customer through the consultant selling process, demonstrating how to solve a customer’s need and gain their trust and commitment.”


What’s next for these three recent college grads, now boot camp veterans? They’ve been formally hired by Avenica to perform client research and prospecting while they interview for sales roles with Avenica clients. Jack and Joel are in the Twin Cities office, while Jade is working out of the Atlanta regional office and actively interviewing there for a role with an Avenica client.

And what’s next for the Avenica-Virtanza boot camp? After a thorough assessment of the program, the teams hope to recruit more recent college grads who want to start a career in professional sales.

Author Ibby Vores, SHRM-SCP, is part of the supportive team of instructors at Virtanza. She’s a senior certified HR professional recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management. Ibby teaches resume writing, cover letter skills and personal branding. She also coaches Virtanza graduates on interpersonal effectiveness for successful job interviews.