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


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