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Building a career on the Catholic faith that inspires us

This article was first published in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of Our Catholic Journey magazine.


by Jared Roddy

Giving your time to a job is something pretty much everyone has to do. Getting something besides a paycheck back? That’s what many consider the Holy Grail of gainful employment. And, it turns out, it’s not just millennials who want “jobs with purpose.” According to a global survey of more than 26,000 members of the social networking site LinkedIn, desire to “make a difference” in your job becomes more important the farther along a person is in their career path.

Something more is exactly what Sales Representatives from Catholic United report getting back from their self-directed work of helping Catholics find financial security. We spoke with four somewhat recent hires – Sales Reps who have found their footing and who look to be embarking on long-term, successful careers. All of them report that their position has offered them the opportunity for fulfilling experiences with their members, and the chance for meaningful connections. Each says there are things that they get from their current position that they would not expect to get anywhere else.

“I have the opportunity to live my faith in my work,” Vicky Giacalone says. “The ability to have a flex schedule where I can really put family and faith first, not just in words. There is true support behind my success.”

Giacalone was the 2016 Marketing Award winner for her creative ideas and ambitious management of several Catholic United-sponsored raffles in central Wisconsin. Kendra Turner won the award for 2017.

Sales Reps celebrate their success
Vicky Giacalone, Travis Schmitz, Kendra Turner and Jon Herold celebrate their success.

Travis Schmitz’s enthusiasm and effervescent personality helped propel him to sign on the Most New Members in 2017. He says he loves the feeling of doing a good job, and seeing that work benefit the community.

“It’s a great feeling to grow membership in an area, and then in turn come back to bring a check to the church or school. The other thing is how close the Association is. I don’t think I’ll work anywhere else where the president will take us out to dinner and then chauffeur us back to the hotel himself. If that doesn’t tell you how the company cares about its sales force, I don’t know what would.”

Except maybe the example of how nothing hits home, like home. Jon Herold, our Representative growing membership in the Bismarck, N.D. area, was able to see his own people benefiting directly from his efforts.

“I grew up attending the Catholic Schools (Light of Christ school system) here in Bismarck from first grade all the way through high school,” Herold says. “In the fall of last year, I was able to coordinate Light of Christ receiving a $25,000 pledge from Catholic United [for the building of a new High School library]. In honor of our pledge, the new school will be naming their religious studies library ‘The Catholic United Financial Religious Studies Library’…It really fills me with pride. Down the road, when my kids go to St. Mary’s Central High School, it will be pretty rewarding to see our name on that library.”

The most basic fact of Catholic United’s work is helping people be financially prepared for the loss of a loved one. Kendra Turner, Sales Representative just north of the Twin Cities metro area, finds the mission itself a comfort and an honor.

“For me, the most fulfilling part is twofold: that when you help people with their finances, through that, we’re combining to also help the Church,” Turner says. “And witnessing the peace and comfort that benefit can bring, I’ve had the honor of delivering checks to people who were so thankful that their loved ones had planned in advance.”

Schmitz takes great pride in the unique business model of the fraternal world. “I get a strong sense of accomplishment and that we are TRULY different from all the rest,” Schmitz says. “No one else does what we do, and certainly no one else does it better.”

Stories of the meaningful and heartwarming effects of delivering benefits to members and institutions are only part of the draw. It’s exceptional to feel truly effective in your work, that people’s lives are better because you do what you do. That’s enough of a benefit for anyone to give it a try. Being able to do it on your own terms and on your own schedule? Easily the main reason these and most of our Sales Representatives stay.

“I get a strong sense of accomplishment and that we are TRULY different from all the rest. No one else does what we do, and certainly no one else does it better.”

Travis Schmitz
Sales Representative, Minnesota

In his best Braveheart impression Herold says, “FREEDOM!” is the main thing that Catholic United Sales Reps get that he’s not had at other careers.

“I have the freedom to run my business the way I want to and pursue opportunities that I think will result in the greatest return.”

That means scheduling around coaching youth basketball for Herold, around the family trips and events of her kids for Giacalone. Turner and Schmitz also brought up the freedom to schedule themselves, and the support staff at Catholic United.

Every successful Rep has their own stories and reasons for spending a career with us. Initiative and desire to control their own future is ubiquitous.

“I don’t think I could make it in a nine to five job,” Herold says. “Here, I know I won’t be stuck on an hourly wage or annual salary. If I want to earn more money, I go put more work in to get it. It’s that simple.”

It would be a wonderful world indeed if good deeds and great feelings could put food on the table. As our Representatives point out, Catholic United may be as close as a salesperson can get.

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