BSU English grad Mandy Stamper is an independent manufacturers’ representative for 10 companies in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.  She works from home on commission with architects, designers, business owners, and general contractors, among others. Although she travels for work, she has a flexible schedule and a lot of autonomy. Previously she worked for a commercial furniture dealership, selling to corporate, healthcare, higher education, and k-12 customers.

After a few years, she decided she wanted the flexibility of working for herself. She gained her first contract by working the floors of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago at Neocon, an annual industry trade show, walking from booth to booth, asking if anyone needed a representative in Indiana.

She gives educational presentations about products and consults on specifications and designs, among other tasks.  She is married and has two children, a son at IU and a daughter in third grade.

How did your English major lead to your current position? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

I honestly just fell into this position.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I knew I didn’t want to teach. I got into the commercial furniture industry and never looked back!  My English degree helped in so many ways. Here are just a few:
  • Sharpened my critical thinking skills.
  • Enhanced my creative thinking.
  • Built a foundation for presentation skills through class discussion and presentations.
  • Broadened my vocabulary to add interest and intelligence to conversations.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day but I can give a list of a few things that I do:
  • Present to architects, designers, owners, contractors, and any others that may be decision makers or involved in installation or fabrication.
  • Show samples and educate about the best solutions for the problems and needs presented.
  • Travel between locations making sure design libraries are up to date.
  • Get creative and brand myself with unique presentations or leave-behinds for architects and designers.  Reminding people you are there is key.
  • Network with representatives of non-competing products.
  • Find and chase leads for projects.
  • Work with teams at the manufacturers’ offices to come up with pricing and strategize the best way to win a project.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

The foundation a major in English gives is invaluable.  Employers today want to know that you have drive and the ability to think critically and convey ideas in an intelligent manner.  Many positions are learned on the job and if you have the ability and desire, there are limitless possibilities.  No one will give you what you want and no one else can determine your path.  You have to decide what you want and go after it.
To learn more about Stamper and her work, visit her website