Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently asked Rahul Mehta ’18 to share his unique experience during this past summer. Rahul Mehta’s internship is part of his Smith Journey and it may be an inspiration to others. It may also be the beginning of what will distinguish him during networking opportunities and job interviews. Rahul is a supply chain management and finance double major.
Dean Mullins: Tell us what you did this summer?
Rahul: I interned with PepsiCo in Chicago, Ill., in the Customer Supply Chain Department within their North American Nutrition Business Unit. In addition, I was able to explore a new city and become a Chicagoan for the summer while still dedicating time to planning the Supply Chain Management Society’s (SCMS) upcoming semester.
I was placed in Customer Supply Chain which involves working with all of PepsiCo’s customers to ensure that they receive the PepsiCo products they want at the right time, date, quality, and quantity. It combines several other supply chain functions, such as supply planning, demand planning and logistics to reach its overall goal of fulfilling the customers’ needs as well as upholding the company’s reputation.
Dean Mullins: What were the highlights of your experience?
Rahul: The highlights range from my actual internship at PepsiCo to living in Chicago and experiencing the city as much as possible. At my internship, I enjoyed working with the customers because it was crazy to see that the work I was doing was directly impacting the products I would see on the store shelves as a consumer.
Since I had never been to Chicago until this past summer, it was an amazing opportunity to live in the city. Chicago is very much so recognized as a “summer city,” meaning that it is lively during the summertime, but quiet during the winter. I was definitely able to see this through the number of free, live music concerts and other outdoor events that the city hosted. After work, it was common to just explore the city and see what events we could find, such as free movies, comedy shows and museums to occupy the free time. Looking back, it was an unforgettable experience that I’ll consider when thinking about full-time positions.
Dean Mullins: How/when/why did you plan this experience?
Rahul: I had met the PepsiCo recruiters several times at the Smith Career Fair and over several years at SCMS’ annual Coffeehouse networking event. Finally, as a junior, I was eligible to apply and interview which resulted in an offer for an unspecified supply chain function in Chicago. Despite not knowing the details of the role, I accepted it in October 2016 due to Chicago being one of PepsiCo’s headquarters and the opportunity to explore a new city.
I had heard great things about the company from the recruiters as well as from past interns so I knew that I was not wrong in making the decision that I did. In addition, I knew that if I realized I did not want to live in Chicago or wanted to change my career path, an internship was the perfect time to experiment because there was the guarantee of returning to UMD once the summer ended. Then, with more work and life experience, I could make a well-informed decision regarding full-time positions in my senior year.
Dean Mullins: Has this experience helped you to clarify your professional and/or personal goal(s)?
Rahul: This summer has only furthered my passion for supply chain management because I enjoyed working in customer supply chain as well as learning about the other supply chain functions that PepsiCo supports. I have enjoyed the SCM classes and the Supply Chain Management Fellows program that Smith offers so being able to apply the concepts in the real world only confirmed my professional goal of working in the field.
I also enjoyed working at a consumer goods company because it was vastly different from my first internship at General Electric Aviation, which manufactures plane engines. The problems and products at PepsiCo were much easier to understand and relatable as opposed to plane engines, which impacted how interesting the work was. Being able to compare my two internships has helped me to recognize that I would like to work with a company that I am familiar with and can connect with.
Dean Mullins: Tell us how your experience might help you continue along the Smith Journey (Freshmen: “Build Your Brand;” Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path;” Juniors:”Command Your Career;” Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience.”)
Rahul: As a junior, I became much more heavily involved with the supply chain department to “Command my Career.” By joining Supply Chain Management Fellows, becoming the president of the Supply Chain Management Society, and recruiting for supply chain internships, I aligned myself with that career path. Upon completing my internship, it only confirmed my career path of working in the field and “Embracing my Experience.” As a senior, I am now able to leverage my internship experience in the classroom by discussing concepts with a real-world perspective. Entering the recruiting season, I can speak about the supply chain field, along with my involvements to hopefully celebrate my success upon graduation.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Rahul: Accept uncertainty. An internship offers usually do not have all the details of the internship fully outlined, but knowing the location and the general function are sometimes enough to make a decision. One of the best parts about internships is that once the summer ends, you get to come back to UMD, so embrace the experience of living somewhere new or learning about a new field. Our careers are still nascent, so that uncertainty will help a lot more than it will harm.
Dean Mullins: What is your dream?
Rahul: My dream is to start my own business with a strong emphasis on the supply chain. Many companies have only relatively recently begun to devote the necessary attention to the supply chain, but by focusing on it immediately, there are huge opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
In addition, I would like to combine my personal passion for travel with my professional dream of starting my own business. Globalization is already a huge force that impacts business and the supply chain function greatly, so leveraging it to my advantage will enable me to travel for my career. I have always had the desire to explore new places and experience new cultures, so doing it as part of my career would be unreal.
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Rahul: The community in Smith is absolutely incredible. People are always pushing each other to reach new heights and become the best versions of themselves possible. I have always believed that a person is the average of their five closest people, whether that be friends, family, mentors, professionals, or faculty. This is hugely reflected within the Smith community because everyone I have met is motivated and good-hearted. These characteristics only continue to emanate throughout the community because as more people represent these traits, then more people are surrounded by them, and begin to adopt them. It’s a never-ending cycle that only benefits and strengthens the community as a whole.
Successful navigation of the SMITH JOURNEY requires involvement with colleagues, professors, professionals, clubs and organizations here at the Smith School, across campus and in the outside “real” world of business. Here is what students are challenged to do in each of their four years at Smith:
Freshmen: “Build Your Brand” through the Smith Start program.
Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path” to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy.
Juniors: ”Command Your Career” to ensure that you are well positioned for your professional journey.
Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience” with an arsenal of tools, knowledge, and networks, so that you are able to embrace your experience and celebrate your success.
Find out more about the Smith Undergraduate Program at www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.