iC Dingbat

Sold on CBS

Story by: Sam Handler '09  |  Photos By: Rob Kievit '09

Every year, as the summer floats closer, most Colby students who take on internships find them through solid East Coast connections. Because the majority of Colby alumni live in the Northeast, Colby connections are, understandably, stronger here than in the rest of the country.

Since I am from Los Angeles, this year I wanted a summer internship close to home, so I could spend time with my parents and friends from high school. I worked with Roger Woolsey in the Colby Career Center for hours and urged him to tap all of his connections west of the Mississippi.

Despite consistent dead ends at first, Roger kept at it. He contacted one of his former Boston College students, Jennifer Kaye, who sits two cubicles away from the sales internship supervisors at CBS Television Distribution in Los Angeles. At Roger’s urging, she gave Ed Johnson, executive director of sales planning, my résumé. A month later I was looking sharp in Ed’s office for an interview. The next week I landed the internship. In two months this summer, I learned more about syndication sales than I could have ever hoped.

Sam Handler '09
Photo of Lucy courtesy of Getty Images

CBS Television Distribution manages CBS’s syndication library, which holds shows ranging from Oprah and Judge Judy to Hogan’s Heroes and I Love Lucy. I worked with people who sold these shows to local television stations. Much of my training came from listening as salespeople persuaded clients on the phone and in person. Just listening gave me experience unlike what I’ve had in the classroom. The sales team showed me how to relate to a variety of clients: when to stand firm, when to push back, and even when to give a little ground.

To make sure I was absorbing all of these skills, the sales team had me pitch them Judge Judy as if they were the San Francisco station KPIX. As intimidating as it was, I saw it as an opportunity to sell to the best. I practiced my presentation every day. By the end of the summer, I knew San Francisco better than Nancy Pelosi.

I’d had some experience in public speaking. Last year I took several classes that required lengthy speeches. However, I had presented to classmates, not professionals. Despite confidence in my abilities, I was nervous. The pitch was to consist of a presentation followed by negotiation. In early August I walked into a room and greeted six sales executives and their assistants with a smile. Twenty-five minutes later the sales team I had grown to admire was full of compliments. I felt great. My hard worked had paid off. Having an audience like that listen to my every word was exhilarating. I wanted more.

The following week, Chris Brooks, head of sales for the western region (whose attention I had been trying to get for two months) approached me. He had seen my pitch, decided I had a lot of potential, and wanted to work with me one-on-one. I was thrilled. Unfortunately the internship ended that week, so I was only able to spend two days with him. During that time he worked with me on negotiation techniques and emphasized how a good salesperson should gauge every buyer and react quickly to their positions.

I could not have asked for more out of a summer internship. I got to be close to my friends and family, and I learned a ton about a profession I plan to pursue after graduation. I also found that I have skills that apply to things beyond football and staying up until sunrise.

Sam Handler '09
Beverly Hills, California
Major: Government

Rob Kievit '09
Farmington, Conn.
Major: Biology