Business major learns supply chain management skills as intern at BMW

June 24, 2015

Midway through his college career, Mason Child was like a lot of students.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life," he says.

But some new Anderson University course offerings and a longstanding graduation requirement allowed the junior to connect a family passion to a bright future.

"For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a direction and a path," he says.

This summer, Child is working as an intern at the BMW Manufacturing Co. factory in Greer, South Carolina. He is working in operative logistics and providing project support as vehicle bodies work their way toward the BMW assembly line.

"Working for BMW is like a dream for me," says Child.

Demand for supply chain managers

Previously a marketing student, Child has changed his focus to supply chain management, a new concentration being offered by AU beginning in Fall 2015. Dr. Kim Whitehead, assistant professor of management, encouraged Child's switch.

"There is such a large demand in the workplace for logistics and supply chain management," she says.

A 2014 report from the Center for Supply Chain Research at Pennsylvania State University estimated current demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by six to one. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that logistics jobs will grow at a 26 percent rate from 2010-20. Meanwhile, thousands of aging baby boomers will leave logistics and supply chain jobs in the coming years.

"They're leaving kind of a vacuum in the workplace," Dr. Whitehead says. "Universities are stepping up to the plate."

Working for BMW

Students in the supply chain management concentration at AU will receive a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in supply chain management. Like other business majors at AU, they are required to work an internship before they can graduate.

There is a one-credit course which helps prepare students (BUS 495 – Business Internship). Child says he found out about the BMW internships by searching online and he applied for two different opportunities.

"It was really a thorough and tough process," he says. "Having Dr. Whitehead as a professor has really helped."

"They're really supposed to be going out and finding these on their own," Dr. Whitehead says of the internships. "As professors, we try to help them along the way and guide them."

Child didn't just get the internship. He was also offered a co-op position at BMW that will last into December.

"They go hand in hand. It's a great opportunity," Child says. "I know it's very competitive to get an opportunity to work there."

BMW assembles its X series sports activity vehicles at the Greer facility. It is a leading South Carolina manufacturer and is known for the pay and benefits its workers receive.

"We've been trying to build a relationship with BMW," Dr. Whitehead says. "BMW is a very large employer in the local area. As a university, we'd like to be able to help them fill their need for workers."

Child will take a break from schoolwork this fall as he works full time at the factory during his co-op.

"It is very lucrative for him and a great resume builder," Dr. Whitehead says.

Continuation of lifelong journey

Little did he know, but Child's resume has been growing since an early age. He is a graduate of T.L. Hanna High School and native of Anderson, where his father operates Bobby Child Automotive.

"My dad is a mechanic – he can do everything when it comes to cars," Child says.

In addition to summer jobs as a YMCA lifeguard, Child spent time working in his father's shop.

"I grew up with a huge appreciation for cars," he says. He drives a 2003 BMW 325i. "I really felt like the Lord led me to apply there. All the credit goes to Him."

Dr. Whitehead says AU students secure internships in fields from accounting to human resources to management, depending on their major. In the past, students have interned locally at AnMed Health as well as with national companies such as The Home Depot, which is headquartered in Atlanta.