The UMSL Department of Supply Chain and Analytics is hosting a “Speed ​​Networking” event to help students secure career opportunities


A Bayer Crop Science recruiter speaks to a UMSL student at the speed networking event sponsored by the UMSL Supply Chain and Analytics Department. (Photos by Wendy Todd)

Most people have probably heard of speed dating, but what about speed networking? It’s the same premise, except that instead of hoping to develop a romantic relationship, the participants are hoping to get a job.

The Department of Supply Chain and Analytics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis hosted its sixth annual speed networking event last Thursday night to help its students and others outside of the major connect with industry professionals.

Nearly 90 students were in the Millennium Student Center’s Century Rooms to meet with 50 industry experts from 16 participating companies, including Ameren, Bunge and Boeing. The room was filled with job hopes and recruiters looking to connect with eligible UMSL candidates.

One of the main goals of the Supply Chain and Analytics department is to support its students in achieving their career goals. In the past, the event – an informal prelude to the UMSL job fair – served as a gateway for students to secure internships and full-time positions.

“It’s a great opportunity to expose our students to industry,” said professor and department head Haitao Li. “It not only gives them career opportunities, whether it’s in the form of an internship or a full-time job, but also a networking opportunity. You can talk to industry leaders and experts. It’s such a great event.”

Michael Elliott, Interim Dean of the UMSL College of Business, delivered the opening remarks at the event.

Assistant Teaching Professor Mitch Millstein looked forward to helping students take steps toward their future.

“The obvious reason for attending would be knowledge and also learning,” he said. “We attach great importance to something that we call student engagement. And for us, student engagement is everything you need to know about supply chain management outside of the classroom. In class we cover theory, equations, mathematics and structure. At this event, the experts talk about real supply chain management so you know what’s really going on in the industry. You are ready to start your supply chain career in an incredibly effective way. And #2, jobs. I know for a fact that people got jobs and internships right off of what’s happening tonight.”

With resumes in tow, the students were also excited about their prospects.

Godfred Owusu, a supply chain graduate student, attended to gain practical knowledge of the industry and to connect professionally with Graybar as he enjoyed working on a project with the company in his class.

Owusu reflected Millstein’s feelings.

“I think this event connects industry with science,” he said. “I think the discipline is trying to bridge that gap between what we’re doing in the classroom and what’s being done in the industry.”

Yi Xuan Lin, a graduate student from Taiwan majoring in international economics, was motivated to attend the event by John Earls, an associate professor who knew she was looking for an opportunity. Lin knew there would be companies at the event that met her criteria.

“I’m looking for a full-time job or an internship,” she said. “I wanted to attend this event to learn more about supply chain companies. I was hoping to get in touch with Bunge because it’s an international company.”

Branyea Johnson, a student pursuing her MBA, joined networking more as an exploratory experience.

“I’m just trying to see what other companies are offering,” she said. “I’ve been at my current job since pre-COVID so I just want to know what post-COVID employers are offering. For example, is there a better understanding of work-life balance? I want to see what the possibilities are.”

Jill Bernard Bracy, associate teaching professor and interim director of the Supply Chain Risk and Resilience Research Institute, knows the impact that speed networking can and has had on student careers.

“We have excellent placement in the department,” she said. “I know opportunities like this are great for students because the professionals are here because they want to hire our students. They come here not just out of good will, but because they have a keen interest in hiring UMSL students, which is huge.”

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