Serena Brown

Serena Brown, BBA ’19

Pursuing Ambitions in Sales and Marketing

Serena Brown didn’t come to the University of Michigan knowing she would apply to the Ross School of Business. However, after a formative experience with the Michigan Business Challenge, she knew Ross was the right place for her career ambitions. 

Her first year at U-M, Serena and a fellow classmate saw the Michigan Business Challenge as an opportunity to explore a model for a retail hair and beauty business on campus. The Challenge, hosted through Ross in partnership with the Zell Lurie Institute, gives students the opportunity to pitch business plans to a panel of leaders in the business community and get feedback on their ideas. As a result of the experience, Serena was introduced to the Ross campus and members of the ZLI team. 

In talking about building out the model, I really discovered my passion for business and solving a need in the community.

“In talking about building out the model, I really discovered my passion for business and solving a need in the community. I applied to Ross a couple of months after I met with some of the mentors at ZLI.”

After being accepted to Ross, Serena became involved with the Cappo Sales Track, which offers dedicated curriculum and resources for students interested in a career in sales. The various on- and off-campus jobs Serena held reinforced her inclination for sales. At each of her jobs, whether at dining halls or at local retail venues, Serena relied on her ability to connect with customers and sell. She saw concentrating on sales while at Ross a natural extension of her skills and experience. 

Students who complete the Cappo Sales Track take 12 credits in sales-focused courses that fall within the track. As Serena notes, one distinct aspect of the Cappo Sales Track courses is how engaging they are. 

“The Cappo courses are very hands-on. You’re doing a lot of actual work for real clients, so you get to practice what you learn about in class. In our Consumer Behavior class, we had to go out and find real clients in the Ann Arbor area and figure out the big business needs or wants they wanted us to address, and then we made a big presentation of our solution and presented it to them at the end of the semester.”

Students involved with Cappo can also participate in a number of informational and networking sessions to help them successfully recruit for a career in sales. “The leaders of the sales track send out a lot of emails about informational sessions, networking and recruiting — those are really helpful.” 

As Serena looks ahead to a position in financial product sales and analytics with Bloomberg, she says one of the highlights of her Ross experience has been the incredible networking opportunities offered through both the Cappo Sales Track and larger Ross program. “Networking opportunities have been extraordinary, honestly,” she says. 

In fact, it was Serena’s introduction to the Zell Lurie Institute that helped her secure her first internship with the startup VengoLabs. Serena also connected with her future employer Bloomberg through one of the school’s many coffee chats, which create informal opportunities for students to sit down with alumni and representatives from major companies to learn more about what they do. 

Serena says she’s glad she followed her initial passion for sales and marketing and leaned into resources that supported both throughout her time at Ross. Her advice to prospective Rossers? “Figure out what it is that you enjoy and what you want to do, and pursue that.”