No matter what someone studies—whether it’s something as broad as English or as specific as Supply Chain Management—nobody ever feels quite ready to enter the workforce until they actually do it.
Getting that first real job is the bridge between the life of a college student and the life of a thriving professional. And luckily, for those interested in the field of supply chain, GE Appliances offers an opportunity to do just that, before you even graduate, through their Supply Chain Co-op program. One assignment tasks students with managing teams during the night-shift at different GE Appliances’ factories.
We caught up with Rafé and Matt who told us about their experience, and how it helped launch their careers.
Solving Problems In The Supply Chain—One Project At A Time
Shortly after beginning the co-op, Matt quickly found himself fine-tuning the processes that led to slow-downs on the factory floor. One of his projects helped drivers more efficiently bring their trucks to the dock. To the untrained ear, this might not sound like a high-impact project, but small changes in process, when repeated thousands of times, lead to major increases in productivity—and, ultimately, a better cost-to-revenue ratio. That’s what supply chain is all about.
As Rafé said, “It may not sound like much, but we were most proud of the fact that we established process and discipline on our own.”
Don’t let their humility fool you. In addition to the wide-reaching changes they were able to make, both Rafé and Matt were given management responsibilities as demanding as many senior leadership roles.
Learn In Real Time, By Managing Real People
It’s one of the biggest challenges—but also the biggest opportunity—of the co-op: managing real people, many of whom are older and more experienced than you are.
Rafé and Matt, as leaders on the night-shift, were tasked with the safety, efficiency, and management of their business area’s team. This even included stuff like approving timecards.
Learning to do this was a little bit of “trial by fire,” Rafé says.
After some initial classroom training opportunities, like a frontline leadership course provided by GE Appliances, much of the learning was done on the fly. The program’s hands-off style definitely contributed to quicker learning and professional development, though, says Matt.
“I was very impressed with how much I learned in a short time frame during my co-ops,” he tells us. “The most important thing that I learned during my first few co-ops was to ask questions. That is why you are there…to learn. I asked questions to my colleagues in the office, the operators on the floor, my assignment leaders, and everyone in between both to learn the skills needed for my job and also to simply grow as a professional.”
Graduating To The Supply Chain Development Program
Both Matt and Rafé thrived in their co-op roles, and after graduation they were invited to join full-time as members of the Supply Chain Development Program. This puts them on a track to become supply chain leaders at the company in just a few short years.
While the skills they learned in school are certainly essential in their new roles, the co-ops gave them the self-assurance they needed to take the next step.
“Throughout the journey, I solved problems with multiple functions, developed relationships, and made an impact on my team,” Matt says. “Looking back, I truly feel that this co-op improved my confidence in the workforce tenfold.”
Want to start on your own path to supply chain success? Check out open opportunities at GE Appliances on WayUp!