Commencement 2015: URI senior’s four internships paved way to career in supply chain management

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 23, 2015 – Providence resident Manuel Melo had never heard of supply chain management before he enrolled at the University of Rhode Island. But four years later he’s president of the Supply Chain Management Club on campus, completed four supply chain management internships, and has already been hired to a supply chain job with a multi-national company.

“I had no clue what supply chain was when I started, but now I can’t get enough of it,” said Melo, who will graduate from URI on May 17. “It touches on many aspects of every company. The beauty of it is that you can do anything from overseeing operations on the factory floor to conducting data analysis in an office and everything in between.”

Supply chain management is the process of controlling all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory and finished goods from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption. URI launched it’s major in supply chain management in 2007 to encompass the strategic planning, design, operations, and improvement of all activities involved in the procurement, manufacture, and delivery of goods and services to meet customer needs.

Melo obtained four internships in the supply chain management field during his last two years at URI, which helped to launch his career in this highly competitive industry. He first interned at Vista Metals in Bristol during the summer before his junior year, preparing shipments to send to customers and receiving materials from suppliers. He followed that up with an internship at Pawtucket-based toymaker Hasbro, where he helped streamline the information flow between the human resources and finance departments.

“That’s where I earned my Lean Six Sigma green belt, which is all about streamlining processes to save money and time,” Melo said, noting that the green belt designation certifies his expertise in process improvement. “I gained experience with a lot of tools that helped me get higher level internships later on.”

Last summer he landed a position at Citizens Bank as a strategic sourcing intern, which found him seeking suppliers around the world for a wide range of products and services. That led to a part-time job doing similar work at Citizens during the fall semester of his senior year.

Along the way, he earned a scholarship to attend a conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals last September in San Antonio, where he had access to networking opportunities with more than 3,000 companies. During the three-day event, he passed out hundreds of resumes and business cards and received more than 100 business cards in return. And during an interview with Georgia Pacific, one of the world leaders in building materials and paper-based consumer products, he was offered a job on the spot.

“I’m going to be a procurement specialist based in Georgia,” Melo said with a smile. “I’ll be the one providing whatever materials and services are needed at the mills. And there will be lots of opportunities for growth within the company.”

Since he was offered the job nine months before he graduates from URI, the company offered him an internship as an inventory analyst from January to May, a position that allows him to work from home for 20 hours each week while completing his degree requirements.

“I’ve had an amazing series of internships,” Melo said. “I went from a warehouse to a couple different office positions that really gave me a good sense of the whole supply chain world. The tools I learned to use in those internships played an important role in getting my job.”

As he prepares to graduate from URI, Melo is looking forward to moving to Savannah, Ga., in June and the start of his career.

“I came into URI undecided about what I wanted to do, and thanks to those internships I now know exactly what I want,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Photo by Nora Lewis