Department of Supply Chain and Analytics holds ‘speed networking’ event to help students secure career opportunities

Young woman is talking with a recruiter, sitting at a table in a room full of people also sitting at tables at a networking event.

A recruiter at Bayer-Crop Science talks with an UMSL student at the speed networking event sponsored by the UMSL Department of Supply Chain and Analytics. (Photos by Wendy Todd)

Most people have probably heard of speed dating, but what about speed networking? It’s the same premise except instead of hoping to make a love connection, participants hope to land a job.

The Department of Supply Chain and Analytics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis held its sixth annual speed networking event last Thursday evening to help its students and others outside the major engage with industry professionals.

Nearly 90 students were in attendance in the Century Rooms at the Millennium Student Center to meet with 50 industry professionals from 16 participating companies, including Ameren, Bunge and Boeing. The room was buzzing with job hopefuls and recruiters wanting to connect with viable UMSL candidates.

One of the major goals of the supply chain and analytics department is to help its students reach their career goals. Historically, the event – an informal lead-in to the UMSL job fair – has served as an entryway for students to secure internships and full-time roles.

“It’s such a great opportunity for connecting our students with the industry,” Professor and department chair Haitao Li said. “It’s not only providing them with career opportunity, in terms of either an internship or a full-time job, but it is also a networking opportunity. They can talk to industry leaders and experts. It’s such a great event.”

Interim Dean Michael Elliott speaking at a lectern

Michael Elliott, interim dean of the UMSL College of Business, provided opening remarks at the event.

Assistant Teaching Professor Mitch Millstein was excited about helping students take steps toward their future.

“The obvious reason to attend would be knowledge, and also learning,” he said. “We are very big into something we call student engagement. And student engagement, to us, is everything outside the classroom that you need to know about supply chain management. We cover in the classroom the theory, the equations, the math and the structure. This event is the professionals talking about real supply chain management, so you know what really goes on in the industry. You’re ready to start your supply chain career in an incredibly effective way. And No. 2, jobs. I know for a fact that people have gotten jobs and internships directly from what’s happening tonight.”

With resumes in tow, students were also excited at their prospects.

Godfred Owusu, a supply chain graduate student, attended to get practical knowledge of the industry and connect with Graybar professionally, as he enjoyed working on a project with the company in his class.

Owusu mirrored Millstein’s sentiments.

“I think this event links industry with academia,” he said. “I think the discipline is trying to bridge that gap between what we do in class and what is done in the industry.”

Yi Xuan Lin, a graduate student from Taiwan who is majoring in international business, was motivated to attend the event by John Earls, an adjunct teaching professor who knew she’s been looking for an opportunity. Lin knew there would be companies at the event that matched her criteria.

“I’m looking for a full-time job or internship,” she said. “I wanted to attend this event to know about more supply chain companies. I hoped to connect with Bunge because it is an international company.”

Branyea Johnson, a student pursing her MBA, joined in the networking as more of an exploratory experience.

“I’m just trying to see what other companies are offering,” she said. “I’ve been in my current job since pre-COVID, so I just want to know what employers are offering post-COVID. For instance, is there a better understanding of the work-life balance? I want to see what opportunities are available.”

Jill Bernard Bracy, an associate teaching professor and interim director of the Supply Chain Risk and Resilience Research Institute, knows the impact speed networking can and has had on students’ professional trajectories.

“We have excellent placement in the department,” she said. “I know that opportunities like this are outstanding for students because the professionals are here because they want to hire our students. They’re not coming here only out of their goodwill, but because they have a vested interest to hire UMSL students, which is huge.”

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