Industry Market Trends

Viewpoint: Getting Young People Into Supply Chain Starts Online

Apr 02, 2014

Management program director of Marian University and supply chain consultant Tom DePaoli urges supply chain companies and professionals to establish virtual relationships with college students on social networks, with the goal of turning these connections into tangible and rewarding future careers in the industry for them.

Many high school and college students are unaware of all the opportunities in the supply chain. Their concept of it tends to be warped by media stereotypes and the lack of career counselors who really understand the depth and breadth of all the possibilities and positions in the supply chain. Many students have not even considered the option of starting a career in this growing and dynamic arena.

Some recent surveys of high school seniors show a general lack of understanding of the possibilities of logistics careers. Supply chain jobs are rarely mentioned by high school counselors or even at many college-level job fairs. The only active promoter of supply chain careers that I could verify was the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). So what can supply chain professionals do to encourage careers in the supply chain?

We should use similar tactics that universities and colleges now use to recruit students. This recruitment does concentrate on the Internet. Just about every potential future supply chain student has a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social media account. First, we should consider creating an employment brand to attract students to supply chain careers. We should use social networks to connect better with students and generate interest.

Local ISM affiliates should have parts of their websites geared to attracting students to supply chain professions. The ISM affiliates should try to build a virtual relationship with interested students. The breadth and depth of possible supply chain professions do create a challenge, but this variety should attract even more students. Of course, virtual job fairs are becoming more common, so cooperation and participation from supply chain employers should be encouraged.

We cannot just stop at the Internet. Traditional tactics like tours of supply chain employers, internships, scholarships, and educational seminars should also be employed.

It is obvious that we have many tactics that could influence students to consider a supply chain career. The challenge will be to measure the effectiveness of these tactics. When I did research for this article, I was astounded by the lack of effort and coordination in encouraging supply chain careers. There is literally nowhere to go but up.

Finally, every supply chain employee should act as an ambassador for a supply chain career and encourage young people to consider the possibility of an exciting and varied career in the supply chain. People are the most important aspect of supply chain optimization.

Photo credit: Ambro at

Tom DePaoli is the management program director at Marian University, in Fond du Lac, Wis., and the principal (CEO) of Apollo Solutions, which does general business consulting in the supply chain, lean Six Sigma, and human resources areas. He is the author of Kaizen Kreativity (Oops!)Common Sense Purchasing, Common Sense Supply Management, and Growing up Italian in the 50s.

This article was originally published at My Purchasing Center and has been republished with permission. For more stories, visit