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Rising Stars: Hard Work Pays Off in Insurance Sales

By Lucas Laursen

Mr. Karl Kuryla took a job selling insurance policies on a commission-only basis. His unexpected success in that line of work has taught him plenty about the insurance industry, his own skill set, and hard-nosed business sense.

Name: Karl Kuryla
School: Marquette University
Major: Computer Science
Years Out of College: 2-5
Title: Insurance Sales Agent

First Steps

"I couldn't find a job doing anything I wanted to do or thought I was qualified to do, and I ended up working for a company who, basically, hires anyone who is actually willing to work for them. Most people quit within their first three months and usually leave making less than $1,000. I looked for an information technology job or a paid research position for eight months--four in Milwaukee, then four in Boston before I finally took a commission-only sales job with Bankers Life. It went quite well for me."

From Then to Now

"A year or two after I started I realized that I didn't really have any extraordinary sales ability and that the reason I was successful was because I was smart and worked hard when needed. I think I would have been successful in anything that I had tried and it really made me wonder how much I could accomplish somewhere else."

My Experience

"I really find overcoming the same arguments and challenges with every client I meet to be very, very boring. The people with whom I work, even though they keep changing, aren't much of an intellectual outlet."

"I'm excited that I have complete control over my schedule and that I am still able to make fairly good money. I get up around 10 or 11, return phone calls and then either go on a few sales appointments or go in to the office to turn in business and schedule more appointments." And when he's not at appointments of visiting his office, Karl also finds time to manage a little real estate, teach ballroom dancing, and go rock and ice climbing.

Next Steps

"I'm looking for three things for my next job. First and most importantly, I want a job that I'm excited to do and is challenging. Second and third are fairly even: flexibility in my schedule, and to be paid what I'm worth. I'm pursuing a master's for the challenge. I don't think I need the degree, but it's been fun and it may come in handy later. Who knows!"

Advice for Others

"I would say I prove that anyone should be able to get out there and make a good living. I graduated from college and took a job that doesn't even require a high school diploma and made 80K my first year. Yes, it sucked; yes, I worked really hard; and yes, I spent many days promising myself I would quit the following morning, but I still made it happen. You can too."

Karl's advice: "Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people do not want to do. I've found it to be true just about everywhere. Also, in my career I've heard a lot about and believe strongly in personal accountability. Can't stress that one enough."

"I don't think I'd do anything differently. I would advise students that they don't have do stick with what they originally planned on doing when considering jobs. I interview far too many applicants who ask in an unhappy tone, 'So I wouldn't be using my major at all?' I always thought, 'So what?'"

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