Supply chain and analytics major signs with Fortune 500 company after summer internship

by | Jan 8, 2018

With a job contract in hand, Zach Bennett is now focused on finishing his degree before starting at Graybar this summer.
Zach Bennett, supply chain and analytics major

Zach Bennett (at left) met CEO of Graybar Kathy Mazzarella and many other executives during his internship with the Fortune 500 company this past summer. (Photo courtesy of Zach Bennett)

There’s a word that repeatedly comes up in conversation as Zach Bennett describes his final semester at the University of Missouri–St. Louis: busy.

During the coming months, he won’t be tied up searching for jobs or making post-graduation plans, though. The supply chain and analytics major is already done with all of that. Instead, he’ll be balancing classes with a full-time internship at Edgewell – a position that wasn’t entirely necessary to boost his resume since he’d already accepted a permanent job elsewhere.

But Bennett’s commitment to learning and an ability to work through a complex schedule are what set him apart. These are also characteristics that will serve him well once he transitions to his professional position with Graybar, a Fortune 500 company that specializes in wholesale distribution as well as supply chain management services, after graduation.

“Edgewell knows that I’ve already signed a contract to work with Graybar, and they happen to be fine with me working for them as an intern,” Bennett said. “I thought that was cool because I can get paid, learn extra, get more experience with a different company and bring those skills to Graybar after I’m finished. It will be a busy semester, but I definitely do see it as an opportunity to continue improving my skills in the professional world.”

When Bennett does starts at Graybar, he’ll be returning to familiar grounds. The St. Paul, Missouri, resident completed a continuous improvement internship at Graybar’s corporate headquarters during the summer, where he made meaningful connections with company executives.

“My desk was on the operations floor, so I was around all of these VPs and directors,” Bennett said. “It was pretty neat to be around all of these people. I definitely utilized that access to walk around on each floor and talk to people and learn about what they do.”

The internship also offered valuable career preparation through a variety of projects including process mapping, providing recommendations for job optimization and evaluating as well as designing implementation guides for the company’s E-Business service solutions.

“I was able to learn what the real world is all about while also learning the skills in the workplace and the lingo,” Bennett said. “Communication is just so huge, so you’ve got to learn the terms, the lingo and how to talk with people. I can tell that I learned a lot from the beginning of the internship to the end. I learned a lot about how a big business, a Fortune 500 company, is structured and how it operates.”

Although his talent and determination are the reasons for his success at Graybar, Bennett points to the UMSL Supply Chain Club for making the job possible by offering the critical first connection.

Founded just a year ago, the Supply Chain Club is already establishing strong networks and enhancing the student experience. Even though Bennett spends a limited amount of time on campus, he makes sure to stay involved with the student-led organization.

“Joining the Supply Chain Club has been really helpful to me because of the events,” he said. “Last year, I actually first learned about Graybar by meeting representatives from the company at one of the club-sponsored events. We’ve also gone to company locations and had tours. Activities with that club have been pretty awesome.”

As Bennett looks past his UMSL graduation and the eventful months ahead, he hopes to continue building connections at Graybar and acquire the skills and capital needed to eventually open his own business.

At the moment, he would like to eventually start a business in brand/product promotion and distribution. Bennett’s confident his experience in supply chain will help him achieve that goal.

“Something I see that’s really important to start your own business is knowing the ins and outs of operations and moving product,” Bennett said. “I thought that the supply chain field was a good place to develop those skills.”

Until an entrepreneurial opportunity arrives, Bennett’s main career goal is to simply enjoy each day.

“I want to really like what I do and be happy with it,” Bennett said. “That’s the big goal. I just want to be happy with whatever job I get while balancing my personal life.”

The UMSL Experience

Sara Bell

Sara Bell