If you want a degree from the No. 3-ranked supply chain management program in North America, then you must complete an internship. It’s as simple as that.
Since 2013, more than 840 Auburn supply chain management majors have gained practical experience at more than 250 firms, including AAA Cooper, Georgia-Pacific, Dollar General, P&S Transportation, DHL, Keyston Bros., and Buffalo Rock. That experience translates into job offers at an average reported starting salary of $55,645.
No wonder Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, ranked Harbert College’s Supply Chain Management program 3rd nationally—jumping 14 spots from its previous standing at 17th. The program vaulted past longtime heavyweights Michigan State and Tennessee, largely on the strength of its industry engagement, the internship requirement, and the breadth of curriculum.
Harbert topped Gartner’s “program scope” category and placed third in the “industry value leaders” category, which was influenced, in part, by a survey of industry professionals. Gartner Research VP Dana Stiffler identified the program as “the upstart in our rankings” based on its ability to adjust curriculum to meet ongoing industry needs and to ensure students receive meaningful experience before graduation.
These internships are a far cry from making copies or fetching coffee. “I was given big tasks and large amounts of money to deal with,” says Dusty Register, who interned in summer 2017 as an outsourcing intern at Georgia-Pacific. Now a full time analyst at Georgia-Pacific, Register earned degrees in business administration and supply chain management in 2017.
Unique to Harbert’s supply chain program, internships are carefully vetted for the quality of experience they will offer students. This vetting process ensures that students will return from internships at reputable, nationwide companies with hands-on experience that can elevate them toward successful careers. “Every single internship that comes across my desk—is reviewed. I examined the job description to determine if it meets the qualifications to earn credit within the Auburn supply chain curriculum,” says Marcia Gibson, coordinator of the professional experience programs. “I look for experiences that offer students the opportunity to add valuable tools to their tool belts.”
Senior David Anderson praised the quality of his internship at Buffalo Rock, the largest Pepsi distributor in the Southeast. “My supervisor wanted us to figure it out ourselves,” he says. “This has helped me develop skills in growth and execution.”
The firms benefit as well. “They get a person who can walk in on day one and performs,” says Gibson. “We believe it is essential that our graduates understand the challenges that lie ahead of them. It is very difficult to appreciate the expectations of running a supply chain operation if you have never been inside of a distribution center, seen the inside of a 40-foot container, visited a port or railyard, or experienced a manufacturing site first-hand.
“At Auburn, we provide opportunities for students, which leads to a better understanding of how a successful business actually works.”