Mission Accomplished! How Perseverance and Persistence Paid Off

By Karen Wetzel, WSET L3, NVWE, AWE, Career Coach

What could be more inspiring than a success story? How about one that also gives you a roadmap to finding your own wine job? In this article, I’ll introduce you to Dawn Marie, a former WSET student and career coaching client who has generously allowed me to share how her perseverance and persistence landed her a great job as a wine sales rep in New York City.  

With a successful, decades-long career in the retail footwear industry, Dawn Marie found herself a victim of layoffs resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Being the “half-glass-full” person that she is, she took the opportunity to give herself a career makeover and pursue her passion for wine. Here’s how she did it:

  • Improved her wine knowledge by taking WSET Levels 1 and 2.
  • Gained industry experience by volunteering as an intern at a local wine and spirits shop. 
  • Sought help from career experts and booked a bundle of coaching sessions with me to update her resume and Linked In profile. 
  • Searched in the right places, using Winejobs (dot com), LinkedIn, and Indeed.
  • Networked with distributor reps she met while interning.

wine-networking Ultimately, it was the networking that paid off. Dawn Marie found a position through someone she met at the wine shop. Now she’s working for Grapes & Greens on Long Island as a wine consultant/sales rep to restaurant and retail accounts. 

I recently checked in with Marie to see how it was going: 

I was given a limited account list, and with help from the coaching sessions, I was able to network and cold call, successfully building my account base,” she told me. “And now that I have built relationships with my buyers, they are giving me new leads to further expand my business”.

I asked if previous experience or knowledge was required for this role?  

Previous knowledge wasn’t necessary,” she asserted, “but it did help me get the interview. It is also important when speaking with the buyers, as many of them have years of experience in tasting, travel, and solid wine knowledge. I can feel confident while I am still learning but not be intimidated.  

Most importantly, I wondered if her new job lived up to her expectations?

I love my job,” she gushed, “it gives me the ability to make my own schedule (with parameters), develop new relationships, find great new restaurants, and help small businesses increase their margins. And I am also fortunate to find one of the few companies that offer some salary plus benefits.”

Dawn Marie knew exactly what she wanted, and she wasn’t afraid to go for it. She used all available resources and left no stone unturned. In the end, it was a real ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ moment!!!

Many thanks to Dawn Marie for trusting me with her goals and sharing her story so I could share it with you. I hope you find her to be as inspiring as I do.  

For one-on-one career coaching with Karen Wetzel directly click here.  And be sure to check out Wine, Work & Passion, the podcast where we inspire you to make a career out of your passion for wine.  Available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Karen Wetzel is an employee of the Napa Valley Wine Academy. The views expressed in this article are hers alone and may not reflect the views of the Napa Valley Wine Academy. 

In Case You Missed It – Other helpful articles from Karen Wetzel:

New Year…New You!!!

The Digital Sales Rep

The Value of Travel

The Anatomy of a Wine Sales Rep

Understanding the Three-Tiered System



Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

You've got this!

Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


You've got this!

Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


You've got this!

Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


You've got this!

Aloft Nashville

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


You've got this!

Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


You've got this!

Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559