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Internship Story: Benjamin Roels - John Deere

Internship Story: Benjamin Roels - John Deere, 2015

Operations and Supply Management student Benjamin Roels understands the importance of both education and experience. In his third year at Ferris, Benjamin plans to graduate this December with all of the skills necessary to be successful in his career.

“My major has helped me by giving me a foundation of knowledge to pull from when working in supply management,” Benjamin explained. “Supply management is unique in that it does not really require a set of technical skills as would a job such as mechanical engineering. Instead the focus is on communication and collaboration skills to enable you to understand and manage projects and process flows. The actual knowledge that you need to complete your day-to-day role at an organization is generally acquired once you begin at a company.”

Benjamin chose to study Supply Management because of his interest in strategic and planning interactions with suppliers. He also enjoys learning about the mechanical design and production processes of the parts or products being produced.

About his experience as a College of Business student, Benjamin said “I really enjoy that classes are structured in such a way that it allows you to bring in your own personal and professional life experiences and apply them in an educational setting. While there will be theory involved in any class you take, real life experiences make those ideas meaningful.”

Benjamin is no stranger to meaningful life experience. During his years as a student, he has invested his time on internships and an additional job that he works during the Fall and Spring semesters. He focuses his experiences on agricultural equipment, an interest of his, and has worked both at the dealer and manufacturing ends of the spectrum.

During the school year he works at Burnips Equipment Co., a chain of five agricultural equipment dealers located in West Michigan. He credits this job with much of his current success because of the way Burnips enables him to take on tasks normally reserved for higher positions.

Now, for the second summer in a row, Benjamin is an intern at John Deere for one of their manufacturing facilities in Iowa.

“This experience has been excellent as John Deere has a wonderful internship program that has allowed me to take ownership of my projects and then use my skills and abilities to make the projects successful. My projects this year are focusing on tracking various assets that are rotated between John Deere manufacturing, dealers, and warehouses and then reused in production.”

Well aware that he would not be so experienced without his job and internships, Benjamin encourages others to find their own. Especially for people in his program, he sees interning as very important in order to learn where one will be best suited to work.

“My advice is that you really need to get an internship early in your program. Internships are excellent tools that will tell you many different things about your own interests and capabilities. Supply management is somewhat of a unique role in the manufacturing spectrum. It is important that somebody who is studying supply management understands what positions exist within that functional area and if they feel like they would be a good fit.”

Benjamin’s goal is to gain even broader experience in the various roles of supply management and operations management as time goes on. Ideally he hopes to rotate positions every few years within a single company to find where his strengths are and then focus on that area for the remainder of his career.

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