The C&S College Connection: One intern’s experience

The country's largest grocery distributor launched an intern program to develop a talent pipeline. Here's how it worked for one intern

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Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled These Days, Interns Get Paid. The point the article made was two-fold. One is that students realize their time is worth something, and are not as willing to take unpaid internships any longer. The other is that it's not only safer to pay interns for their work from a HR and liability standpoint, but it's potentially a way to build a pipeline of entry-level talent. Heck, you get to take them for a test drive to boot.

In Keene, New Hampshire, where I live, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. has launched two internships with two local academic institutions. C&S is not only the largest distributor of groceries in the country, it's the largest employer in my hometown. During my interviews for the piece, Mark Fryberger, C&S's vice president of finance, acknowledged that there's just less legal liability if you pay your interns, but is also looking to the two intern programs as a solution to a pressing and vexing problem – attracting recent college graduates to go to work for a great company headquartered in a small town in New Hampshire when their peers want to go to New York, Boston or even Albany. You can read about the initiative on SCMR.com. You can also read about an internship program that Walgreens launched to build a pipeline of managers and supervisors for its network of distribution centers.

To find out what the experience is like for an intern, I talked to Gabreille Miele, a graduating senior at Keene State College.

Growing up in Ludlow, Vermont, a town even more rural than Keene, Miele headed off to college with a plan to get a degree in management and move to Boston to work for the Red Sox or New England Patriots. Instead, she's about to join C&S's leadership development program, following stints as an intern in the C&S procurement department. “I was not aware of C&S prior to this program, but during my junior year, the career advisory office told me to apply for a marketing internship,” Miele says. “That position was filled, but one of my professors introduced me to the procurement department and in April 2017 I was hired as a data cleansing intern.”

A typical day as a data cleansing intern began with Miele checking her C&S email to see if her supervisor had assigned a new project; if not, she was part of the team that reviewed stacks of old advertising circulars and entered the pricing data into Excel spreadsheets. The project was designed to help planners better understand the prices at which certain products sell at specific times of the year. It was anything but glamorous but “it was meaningful work. I liked that everything I did had an impact.”

In addition, as time permitted, she was invited to attend team meetings to learn more about the business, participated in weekly training sessions and visited other C&S facilities. Following the data cleansing project, she was invited to join a procurement training team and finished her senior year internship creating planning programs in the procurement department. She was also a member of the Keene State/C&S task force.

One unexpected but welcome benefit to C&S is that Miele says she became an ambassador for C&S on campus. “I loved working here and talked to my friends about applying for an internship,” she says. She also believes the experience will give her a head start when she joins the company full time. “I am definitely prepared for an environment that is fast paced,” she says. “I've had to be on my toes and think critically. Those are skills I can take anywhere.”

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, MMH Executive Editor and SCMR contributor
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Bob Trebilcock is the editorial director for Modern Materials Handling and an editorial advisor to Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered materials handling, technology, logistics, and supply chain topics for nearly 40 years. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 603-852-8976.

View Bob's author profile.

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