Inside a former storage closet in the Knorr Student Center, Mary Margaret Peter ’14 is working hard, having altered the space to accommodate her and three part-time interns.
She is working for Automated Logistics Systems, or ALS. The supply-chain management company began its relationship with Hillsdale College last year, when its vice president of business development — Paul McDonald, whose daughter attended the college — contacted the career services office about hiring December graduates. After some interviews, however, ALS learned Hillsdale students didn’t fully understand its industry, Assistant Director of Career Services John Quint said. The company started a Hillsdale office to offer students the opportunity to learn.
“I had no idea what the logistics industry was,” Peter said of when she was first hired.
The former storage closet is a small branch of the transportation brokerage company. ALS coordinates with both customers and transportation companies to move goods and freight around the world. Headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, ALS has branches in Laredo, Texas, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well.
Crediting her education in the liberal arts, Peter said she used her skills of problem solving, critical thinking, and writing to gain an understanding of the work so different from her exercise science major.
As an inside sales executive, she now oversees the three-session, year-round internship program. The program aims to teach students about sales, supply chain management, and logistics and provide an environment for students to apply those skills in a work setting, Peter said.
The sessions, which begin at the start of each semester, kick off with a one-week seminar in which students learn the particulars of the company itself, the supply chain industry, making sales within that industry, and other relevant skills. Summer interns work a full 40 hours per week, while fall and spring interns have a more flexible schedule. The students perform a variety of tasks, including making sales calls and compiling customer relationship information.
Intern junior Josh Cameon said he appreciates the opportunity to put his double major in economics and mathematics to use in tackling data projects, such as analyzing labor efficiency and preparing revenue reports.
“It ties in a lot of applied math in a business setting,” Cameon said.
Career services hopes to foster more of these close relationships with local employers in the future, Quint said.
“We’re all ears,” he said.