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Summer Internships Allow Students to Gain Experience Outside the Classroom

In Stacie Sumler’s Jenkins MBA internship with Johnson & Johnson this year, she was in charge of a big process-improvement project: to improve the contracting system for the sales and distributor services unit.

That meant designing a change-management plan, updating online training materials, and creating an initiative with the IT department to integrate programs and eliminate certain repetitive practices.

All in just three months.  

Sumler succeeded in the summer internship with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen pharmaceutical division. She created a plan for the contracting process to staff a call center for the covid-19 vaccine and consumer products.  

“It involved ironing out the system for entering the process, so suppliers and contractors could start doing the service Johnson & Johnson was requesting of them,” Sumler says. “It was one workflow that’s always being followed as opposed to constantly wondering which direction you were supposed to go.” Her plan reduced the average contracting time by 13 days. 

In addition to enhancing her presentation, negotiation and networking skills in the internship, Sumler left with a key takeaway: “My project was not easy, but I had a lot of fun doing it,” she says. “It solidified the fact that I want to focus on process improvement in my career.”

For Jenkins MBA student Kevin Jones, too, his 10-week summer internship with clothing manufacturer HanesBrands Inc. confirmed his supply-chain career plan. 

“I really liked the type of work I did during the internship,” focusing on data analytics and supply chain issues, says Jones, who was on a three-intern, U.S.-based team for a project with a HanesBrands textiles operation in El Salvador. 

The skills they developed in the MBA program helped Jones and Sumler excel in their internships, which in turn increased their confidence as they plan their careers. Both are full-time students who expect to finish the program in 2022. 

At Johnson & Johnson, she made presentations remotely before 20 to 30 senior executives at a time in Titusville, New Jersey — as the only intern at the meetings.   

“It helped that I knew how to work with people with their different moods and eccentricities,” she notes.

Jones also tapped the teamwork skills he developed in the MBA program as he analyzed the efficiency of the manufacturing process in a HanesBrands production cycle during his internship.  

In teams at Jenkins, he has learned to explain his positions and ask questions to get input from classmates.

The time management skills he honed at Jenkins helped Jones stay on track to meet presentation deadlines for HanesBrands. 

Through their internships, Sumler and Jones gained experience that could help them stand out as they start new careers after graduation. 

Jones hadn’t worked in the apparel industry before his internship and appreciates the exposure to a different sector. And the cross-cultural aspect of the internship was important, too, in a global economy. His team had weekly meetings with an El Salvador-based group, some of whom did not know English. He learned to make his questions more direct for clarity for non-native English speakers. 

In addition to polishing her communication skills by working with interdepartmental colleagues at Johnson & Johnson, Sumler made many connections that could boost her career eventually. “Just being able to say you worked at J&J, having that on your resume, is a benefit,” she says.

Another benefit for Sumler and Jones is the Poole College of Management Career Center. Career coaches there helped prepare them for interviews for internships and positions after graduation. Easy-to-access job listings and virtual company presentations also are useful.    

Sumler has accepted employment at Johnson & Johnson after graduation. She’ll be in the company’s procurement leadership development program, a two-year rotation across all sectors, after which she will ask to work in a particular department.    

In the meantime, her career adviser, Caren Howley, “has been amazing. She’s helping me with my resume and with brushing up on interview skills, and sending me information about career opportunities, resume workshops and interview boot camps,” Sumler says. 

“The career center advisers have said they’re there to help us out forever,” she notes. “I have no doubt I can reach out if I need assistance or if I’m back on the career hunt.” 

This post was originally published in Jenkins MBA News.