Ava Dressendofer Named Aflac Top Sales Intern
Galloway, NJ – Freshman Ava Dressendofer is a political science major on the pre-law track at Stockton University, but she’s learned through experience that selling insurance opens many doors.
Dressendofer was named by Aflac insurance as the top sales intern in the country during the summer of 2021, closing 27 accounts and selling over $120,000 in annual premium. She also was named Rookie of the Year for the New Jersey territory and won a trip to Aflac's 2022 National Convention in San Diego.
“I learned how to build relationships with my clients as well as business owners,” said Dressendofer, 19, of Hampton, Hunterdon County, a high honors student at Stockton. “Since I have worked with multiple different types of businesses, I saw how each of them functioned and how their needs for employees differed from others. I also learned how to talk on the phone with brokers, clients, and business owners.”
Dressendofer was recognized March 28 at a Business Etiquette Dinner hosted collaboratively by Stockton Career Education and Development, the School of Business, the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Aflac.
Dinner Facilitator was Noel Criscione-Naylor, Associate Professor of Hospitality, Tourism, and Event Management & Assessment Coordinator at Stockton University.
The Business Etiquette Dinner – which features a five-course business meal – is the training ground for students who want to learn the rules and details of table manners they might not know if they’re trying to land any kind of professional job.
Earlier the same day, a panel of Aflac executives spoke about career education and development topics in the Campus Center Event room.
Aflac panelists included Joseph Clarke, District Sales Coordinator; Emma Sluiter, National Recruiting Relationship Coordinator; Mary Dressendofer, Regional Sales Coordinator and Michael Fornaro, Market Director of New Jersey.
Panelists said students may not think initially of selling insurance as a career, but it has many benefits and is ideal for someone who is outgoing and a self-starter. Networking should start while they are still in college.
“We all have many networks said Mary Dressendofer, who is also Ava’s mother. “We have family networks and friend networks and work networks. You have to market yourself.”
Sluiter said students should also look for personal and professional mentors, and value the time they can spend with them.
“I have many mentors,” Fornaro said.”I’m a believer that if you can do something, I can do it.”
With so many interviews and meetings being held virtually, students were advised to treat the virtual event as seriously as they would an in-person interview.
“Watch your background and dress like it’s a real meeting,” Clarke said.
Rejection is part of the process, and the panelists said it’s okay to feel upset for a little while, but then you have to get up and keep going.
Sluiter said creating habits help keep her on track.
“Motivation gets you started, but habit keeps you going,” she said.
Mary Dressendofer said believing in the product you are selling is important.
“Rejection motivates me,” she said. “I know we have a great product and I want to know why it was rejected.”
Sluiter recalled getting denied an internship she wanted.
“I was devastated, but I stayed in touch and later got a job offer,” she said.
Panelists said sales involves rejection, so it’s also important to surround yourself with positive people and have a support system.
“Be with like-minded people who challenge you,” Sluiter said. “Don’t be with energy vampires who drain you.”
All advised doing internships to get experience and discover what they like and don’t like. They also suggested learning a second language.
Ava Dressendofer plans to go to law school for her doctorate degree, but said what she learned about selling insurance helped her stash away money in her college fund.
“I definitely learned business etiquette. Regardless of what major you may be, if you are in the business field, I think it's such a beneficial experience because it is tailored to what you are looking to get out of it,” Dressendofer said.
With the flexibility that Aflac offers, she plans to continue to work at Aflac during her breaks at Stockton and during the summer months.
“I want to eventually become a constitutional or civil lawyer, but I honestly will probably continue to do Aflac,” Dresssendofer said. “I get residual income so all of the business I wrote this summer will pay me for the rest of my life when people pay their insurance premiums, so regardless, if I decide to stay with them, I will always get paid from Aflac,” she said.
Dressendofer also is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society for first year students, and Sigma Delta Tau.
The Aflac experience will help in the future, Dressendofer said.
“Working for a fortune 500 company looks incredible on my resume, everyone knows Aflac, and a lot of people are impressed by how much I learned and can apply that skill to their business needs,” Dressendofer said. “I was doing something different every day, so now I have a little bit of expertise in each area of business whether it comes to using computer platforms like Excel or talking on the phone professionally.”
- Story by Diane D'Amico and Stephanie Loder
- Photos by Diane D'Amico and Eliza Hunt