COLUMBUS, Ind. — This summer, Kelley School of Business undergrad Blake Bradley learned firsthand that the oft-told tale of the well-prepared Kelley intern is absolutely true. He arrived at Toyota Material Handling in Columbus, Ind., ready to learn about supply chain management and found that he could hit the ground running.
“The Toyota Production System is world-renowned for its approach to supply chain management. We learned about TPS in my supply chain management course and then I was using it in my day-to-day work, which was cool. You hear the clichéd stories about Kelley students being well prepared. But then I got there and was like, ‘Whoa, I actually know what these people are talking about,’” Blake said.
Blake served as a process improvement intern and was one of 26 interns from universities in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas.
“I got way more out of my internship than I expected — new friends, connections, maturity and leadership skills that I never expected to receive,” he said.
Blake could have focused on the projects assigned to him, but he would have missed out on a lot of learning opportunities. Instead, he “dove in head first” to learn as much as he could. He worked on assignments given to him but also chased down solutions to other issues or problems he observed. His job involved offering a fresh set of eyes and at times asking employees why they do things certain ways.
He specifically asked to shadow employees in different areas of supply chain management during the first two weeks of the internship so he could translate his textbook understanding of the roles into real life work. He went in more interested in procurement, he said, but now finds the manufacturing and distribution areas more appealing. He better understands his strengths and what he loves to do — and just as importantly — what he doesn’t love to do. All of this will help him find a job he truly enjoys, which is important to him. And it certainly helped him with his junior internship search.
“My whole internship was about being an opportunist,” he said. “Having a goal for yourself is good, but if you go in with tunnel vision you’ll miss other things.”
Blake connected with Toyota Material Handling during a supply chain management job fair organized by Undergraduate Career Services at Kelley. When he arrived for his internship, he encountered Kelley alumni at all levels of the company, including the national manager. He credits the Kelley name in part for the level of work entrusted to him. He was asked to analyze a software program, for example, and to recommend whether to use it. Using it, he determined, would save the company substantial sums of money.
“What we learn in class really comes together in the internship,” Blake said. He plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in 2021. “It’s real. The impact we can have at such a young age is pretty amazing.”
Kelley students can begin working with career coaches from Undergraduate Career Services their first year. The top-ranked UCS team provides invaluable resources to Kelleys as they secure internships and jobs, with the USC team coordinating annual recruiting visits by more than 300 companies who conduct more than 8,000 on-campus interviews.