Don’t Skip This Step in Your Internship Program

don't skip this step in your internship program

Tristan Sweat, Content Manager

Do you remember your college internship?  I do, and unfortunately, I didn’t leave the program with a portfolio of real world examples showcasing my skill set. I also didn’t have a mentor willing to take part in a knowledge transfer to broaden my understanding of the business. Those activities took place at my first real world job at a TV station in Cadillac, Michigan. So when I discovered my current employer, LeanLogistics, has a robust internship program, I was interested in learning more. I grabbed my notebook and pen and started walking around the office. I had a few questions to better understand why so many interns leave champions of the company, and why so many stay with us full time.

LeanLogistics is a supply chain technology company, which means we have two different career paths in the building: supply chain professionals and technology developers.  The company was started in 1999 by supply chain experts who wanted to make transportation planning easier with a SaaS-based, multi-tenant transportation management system. They called it LeanTMS.

I started on the technology side of the building to check in with intern Matthew Conflitti. He is a Grand Valley State University student majoring in computer science.


Matthew praised his mentor, Zak Kubicek, a software developer on the research and development team (R&D), for his ability to convey complex topics easily. Zak has worked for the tech team for more than 8 years. He didn’t feel his own internship (at a  different company) was very helpful, so he makes it a point to give interns real world work so they are prepared for their first job.


Four of our technology interns are staying on board while they finish their degree. It’s a similar story on the managed transportation services side of the building where logistics professionals are using our transportation software, LeanTMS, to plan and execute freight for customers such as Rich Products.  I stopped by the Rich Product’s team to talk to Seth Husby, a GVSU student pursuing a degree in supply chain management, to find out what he thought about our internship program.


Brian Zirbes is a supply chain analyst , I mean manager, (just promoted today) who also started as an intern at LeanLogistics several years ago. He was hired on full time and is a valued member of the MTS department.


In the lunchroom, I found Zach Poppema, one of 10 interns that joined our team this summer. He shared some words of advice for anyone interested in applying for LeanLogistics’ internship program.


After my tour was over, I determined there are four key ingredients in the secret sauce of Lean’s internship success. And, the most important one is often skipped: take the time to teach.

  1. Take Time to Teach – Everyone at LeanLogistics works hard and maintains full schedules, but there is a collective understanding that taking time to teach each other what we know improves the team as a whole. So when an intern joins the team, the teaching mentality is already established and the knowledge transfer becomes organic.
  2. Encourage Mistakes – No one likes to make mistakes on the job, but at LeanLogistics, you don’t have to be afraid of a mistake. The teaching mindset allows the freedom to say: “what did you learn from what just went wrong and how can we do things differently next time?”
  3. Assign Real Work – Every intern I spoke with was proud of the projects they completed. They knew each assignment was bringing real value to not only their own professional experience, but also to the company. They were contributing team members and the title “intern” didn’t impact the type of work they accomplished.
  4. Listen to ideas –  Outside perspectives can be refreshing. Ensure your interns know you want to hear what they think about your current processes, projects, and communication style. The teaching mindset goes both ways.

Read this post on how our tech team encourages innovation.

Embracing the ability to teach and be taught, that’s one more way we are building better supply chains together.

Posted in Blog
Tagged coding, developers, interns, internship program, jobs, learning, managed services, Supply Chain

One thought on “Don’t Skip This Step in Your Internship Program”

  1. Sumant says:

    A very useful article for those who want to get into the logistics industry. To set your career into place, the internship plays a vital role. This is the time where each individual can learn from their colleagues and start building their network from there. From my experience during my internship with DTDC UK all the people I came across were always extremely helpful and always offered a helping hand when needed.

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