On Campus: The dentist

dentist_newscut.jpg Zach Rossow of Osceola needs two more biology classes at Century College before he can transfer to either Texas A&M or the University of Minnesota on his way to becoming a doctor of dental surgery. That’s another six years of work before he starts his own practice.

That’s not just a lot of time. It’s a lot of dollars. How does he pursue his dental dreams? He sells knives.

That took our conversation about the economy in an entirely different direction and I asked him to tell me about his favorite sales calls. “In our business we remember the lady or gentleman who had Cutco 55 years ago and they’re, like, ‘Oh my gosh I haven’t seen Cutco in 50 years.’ And then they tell you a million stories about their one paring knife.”

Nothing perks up a day like a good paring knife story.

He made $35,000 in the last year selling knives 5 to 10 hours a week to finance his education, but he’s quick to point out that a friend of his who’s graduating from Mankato State University made $180,000.

He figures it’s a recession-proof business in the bad economy “until grocery stores stop selling food that’s bigger than your mouth.”

“You’ve practiced that line, haven’t you?” I asked.

“I’ve used it before,” he admitted.

If you can make that much money selling knives, why become a dentist? “To help people,” he said.

It’s not a long-standing dream. He was pursuing a career in economics until September when the economy collapsed. He realized the market is going to be flooded with people with financial experience, “and I like school, and human anatomy was my favorite class so it’s always been in the back of my mind. So I just chose to change now while I’m still young. I’ll still be in my 30s, so what?”

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