At first glance, junior Kelsey Riley might seem like your average college student. Upon looking at her resume, however, you will find that she’s anything but ordinary.

Riley, a tourism and events management major, set herself apart from the rest of the crowd when she became a Mark representative in 2008. Mark, a division of Avon, is a leader in the sale of cosmetics, clothing and accessories. After Riley signed up, she quickly began her own success story.

“It was kind of a random thing,” says Riley. “There was a Mark event on campus where they did a makeup demonstration. I was really skeptical at first, but they’re all about giving women an opportunity to make money and look fabulous. It gives women the opportunity to gain sales, entrepreneurship and networking experience.They also do the M.Powerment Campaign, which helps women in abusive relationships.”

As a Mark representative, Riley gained experience while selling Mark products to customers. Soon after, Riley applied for an internship at the Avon headquarters in New York, where she was one of many eager candidates chosen to participate in the program.

“I sold like crazy to get my name out there,” says Riley. “That was hard because I had such a high goal for myself. Once you get the ball rolling, it gets easier. Once you get past that point, so many doors open for you.”

After arriving in New York City, Riley got to sit in on top executive meetings, gain better public speaking skills and fine-tune her sales techniques, in addition to learning from the other interns.

“The experience was amazing,” says Riley. “New York City is the perfect place to live when you’re young. The projects I worked on are online now, so it gave me tangible work experience. I even planned an event for over 200 people. I was so humbled to be working with all the Avon employees.”

In addition to real-world work experience, Riley was able to network and build connections with the people around her, something she values highly.

“Relationships are really important to me, so I think that was the best part of the internship — being around everyone that I came in contact with,” says Riley. “That was a big part of my life.”

After returning from the internship, Riley was one of only 50 women across the nation hand-selected to become a Mark mentor. Mentors are able to host events for their region while helping out representatives and serving as role models to younger women.

“As a mentor, I oversee 300 representatives from the D.C. metro area,” says Riley. “I’m there to help the representatives grow from their business. You aren’t competing against each other. The more successful you are, the more successful the company is and that goes back around to you.”

Riley has acquired valuable skills from her experiences and learned some tricks of the trade to help get ahead in the real world.

“Pushing yourself to the limit is a really good way to learn,” says Riley. “Jump on any opportunity you get. Even if it doesn’t apply to you, it can be worthwhile. Your career is not always linear. You don’t always travel in a perfect path.”

Riley continues to be an inspiration to young women in the Washington metropolitan area and is a perfect example that with hard work and determination, anything is achievable.

“In the future, career-wise, I hope to still be working with Mark, or something in business or sales. As long as I love it as much as what I’m doing now, it will make me happy.”