Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

How Your Organization Can Help Bridge the Gap in Supply Chain Talent


Creating a Pipeline of Future Logistics Experts through Internship Programs

Finding qualified young people who are motivated to pursue a career in logistics, and who have the aptitude and mindset to excel in this global profession, is one of the most pressing problems facing logistics today. Many solutions are being pursued, but one that should not be overlooked is offering an effective internship program.

In this post, I’ll explore the role of internships in talent management and share some best practices for setting up and managing an effective internship program.

Identify the Qualities You Are Looking For In Your Candidates
When recruiting our interns, students who are studying for degrees in the supply chain field are preferred, but we consider candidates from other subject areas, too. It’s important for the company and the industry to spread the recruitment net as widely as possible. Academics are only one part of the equation—relevant work experience and an interest in the logistics industry are definite bonuses.

There are also certain intangibles to look for, such as people who appear to be a good cultural fit for the organization, are good communicators, and have qualities that make them stand out as individuals.

Provide Real World Experience
It’s important to empower your interns to make decisions in conjunction with their managers. Provide them with exposure to a broad cross-section of the business including reporting, analytics, consulting, and operations. Something we do at TMC is to assign each intern to an account and task them with completing a project that they present in writing and verbally at the end of the program.

Check-In Regularly on Their Progress
Hold bi-monthly meetings with every intern to lend support and check on progress. For example:

  • Are the participants taking the initiative and picking up the concepts they should be learning?
  • Are they meeting project deadlines and showing the kind of work ethic we’re looking for?
  • Importantly—are they having fun? The work ought to be enjoyable, but so should the social side of these programs.

Some individuals thrive in this environment and find it even more rewarding and stimulating than they expected. Others discover that the experience is not what they thought; perhaps a more customer-facing role or one that involves more field work is a better fit based on their strengths and interests.

Win-Win for Logistics
Individuals who successfully complete good internship programs are better attuned to the needs of prospective employers and the logistics profession; knowledge that helps them plan their future career paths.

The logistics industry benefits as well—provided that companies devote the time and resources required to create effective programs. Internships support and enhance the industry’s efforts to tackle the talent gap that threatens its long-term competitiveness.

Editor’s note: This post originally ran in 2016. Since it’s a relevant topic, we wanted to share it with you again.