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How to succeed in business – start as a shadow

Most high school sophomores can be excused for not knowing exactly what they want to do after school. Most may have a general sense of a career – engineering, agriculture, sales.

Karl Grossman, though, has a very specific idea. He wants to get into sales, but not just any sales. He wants to work for a luxury car dealer and for him, luxury cars mean Porsche.

As part of his Preparing for College and Career class at Prairie Heights High School, Grossman had to spend a day shadowing someone in the field he is interested in. And, being a fan of the German sports car, he contacted the nearest Porsche dealership, O’Daniel Porsche in Ft. Wayne. “I was pretty surprised when they let me,” Grossman said.

Ted Mekianov, Porsche Brand Ambassador for the dealership, loved the idea of having Grossman shadow him for a day. “When I was 10 and fell in love with Porsche, there wasn’t an option like this for me,” Mekianov said. He enjoys the opportunities to help youth in nurturing their spirit and love of sports cars. “I’m still as big a fan of Porsche as I was back then,” he added. “I want to help maintain that spirit in younger people.”

Grossman has been a fan of Porsche for years, noting that he likes the style of the cars and the way the classic looks have changed little over the years.

It’s one thing to like the cars, and another to sell them. Grossman was looking to get some insight into what it takes to work with one of the top brands in the world. “There’s a lot of body language things to learn,” he said.

Being a fan of the marquee, Grossman knew a lot of the technical aspects of the vehicles on the lot, but still found plenty more to learn about what makes these cars special. “Karl was very knowledgeable on our cars. He already knew the engine configurations and other details,” Mekianov said. “You have to know exactly what the customers are talking about and want in this business.”

Grossman also found out about a lot of the “day to day” work needed in the business, as well as the amount of math required.

Grossman knows that his career path will likely not start at a Porsche or other sports car dealer, but that is the goal he has. “You can’t start from the top,” Grossman noted.

The job shadowing, the first time Mekianov has had a student work with him for the day, is a good start. “I’m glad he came to do it. Hopefully, he’ll stop in again,” Mekianov said.

“I would do it again,” Grossman said of his experience of working in a showroom with some of the world’s most iconic cars. And, if his career path takes him where he is aiming, he will and perhaps have a high school student shadowing him for the day.