Graduate Spotlight: Karley Barcus

by Kylie Gibbs, marketing intern, Mike Cottrell College of Business

Name: Karley Barcus

Degree & Graduation Year: BBA in Marketing, 2015

Title: Area Supervisor, American Greetings

This week, we interviewed Mike Cottrell College of Business marketing graduate Karley Barcus to discuss her role as Area Supervisor for American Greetings.

So what is your role and what exactly do you do? I have many different roles as an Area Supervisor. I work in the Field Sales department for American Grettings. I currently manage around 35 merchandisers who have 230 accounts located in western NC and parts of SC including Walmart, Target, Dollar General and other grocery and retail stores. I manage people but also try to increase sales in all of my accounts. I present sales numbers and build relationships with store management as well as try to gain valuable floor space for seasonal products. I also do all of the hiring for my territory and create routes for my merchandisers.

What is your favorite part of your job? I really like training and working with merchandisers.

How did you get your position? I was looking at all sorts of jobs after graduation and found this position open on

What was the interview process like? My first interview was a phone interview that lasted for about an hour. I was interviewed by the southern region Leadership Development Manager. A couple of weeks later the District Manager called to set up my second interview which also lasted about an hour. I was hired for a training position in Atlanta and three months later I was asked to move to a new district for the position in Asheville, NC.

How do you feel the Mike Cottrell College of Business prepared you for your career? The leadership opportunities I had in college and my ability to speak and work with others is what landed me this position. The Mike Cottrell College of Business gave me a strong foundation that I needed in order to understand the business world. I am able to apply the little things from various classes such as group and team work, lean management, operations, leadership, product placement, presentation skills, technology, etc.

What are the 3 biggest things you have learned thus far in your position? Well, one, managing people is a lot harder than I’d ever dreamed of it being, especially when you may only see some of them once a quarter. Two, all companies in a corporate world are structurally the same…What you learn from one company can also be applied to many others. And, three, there are endless opportunities, you just have to figure out what you want and go for it.

What do you miss most about college? I miss my friends and having everyone living right down the street from one another. It’s really something you take for granted until you realize that’s never going to happen again.

If you could go back and tell yourself anything in college, what would it be? I had an incredible college experience so this is a hard question. I guess it would be not to get stuck in the “college bubble.” My entire four years I rarely kept up with things that were not related to my college experience. I’m now playing “catch up” to some degree on current events that weren’t related to classes so I have other things to talk about with co-workers and managers other than work or business-related things.

What is the best advice you could give current college students? Making good grades and doing well in classes is important but what’s more important is what makes you different than the rest of your classmates. The people fighting for the position you want all did well in school so what makes you more appealing to an employer and how can you add value to the organization you want to work for? That is what will land you your job so get involved, study abroad, be a research assistant, intern, find leadership experiences, etc.

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