Cassandra Kalinowski ’17 combined her passion for the challenge of engineering and love for helping people into a career in technical sales.
The mechanical engineering major began her new position as a commercial specialist within the technical sales support team at RenewAire LLC in Madison, Wisconsin, the Monday after her December graduation.
RenewAire builds energy recovery ventilator units for heating and air conditioning systems. As a commercial specialist, Kalinowski does troubleshooting and educating for customers and the company’s sales channel on the importance of indoor air quality.
“My favorite part of my job is when I get a call from someone with an issue with a unit, and I’m able to help them resolve it,” she said. “This can be very challenging since I’m not in front of the unit to help them, I’m troubleshooting over the phone and have to ask the right questions to understand what they are looking at. … I find myself running to the shop a lot to see exactly what the customer was talking about.”
Kalinowski found the right combination of a mechanical engineering major, marketing minor and a Professional Selling Specialization at St. Cloud State University, and it made her an attractive prospect on the job market.
Engineering courses gave her a good foundation in the technical side of the business and sales and marketing classes taught her how to ask the right questions to determine what her customers need and how she can help them — a skill she uses every day, she said.
Kalinowski connected with her employer through LinkedIn before her final semester at St. Cloud State. A recruiter noticed that her summer internship with Twin City Fan was similar to the position RenewAire was seeking to fill. After a few phone and internet interviews, RenewAire flew her to Madison for an interview and eventual job offer. She pushed for, and was granted, a higher starting salary than her initial offer.
Kalinowski credits professors Shirley Buls, Eric Little and Dave Titus with challenging her and helping her find a way to combine her interests and skills into her career niche.
Titus, a marketing professor with an engineering degree, helped her to see that sales skills and engineering complement each other well.
“From his classes I realized I have what it takes to be successful in a technical sales position by combining my technical knowledge and outgoing personality,” she said. “The personality that makes it easy for me to meet people and grow relationships, which is so important in sales.
“I learned so much about sales from Dave and use his teachings every day.”